The winning design proposal will be awarded US$100,000, with US$50,000 for second place and US$25,000 for third.

The Skyway, which was completed in 1953, was originally designed to connect truck traffic from multiple large and small factory complexes and the Port of Buffalo to the then-fledgling interstate highway system. The four-lane limited access expressway, which extends about 6.5km along the city's Buffalo River and Lake Erie waterfront, now carries almost 40,000 trips per day of commuter traffic.

Buffalo Skyway

"Buffalo is one of the great urban success stories in this country, and it's been a remarkable turnaround. We want to continue that momentum, and the Buffalo waterfront has always been one of the great assets as the potential for growth opportunities," said New York governor Andrew Cuomo. "We have realised it through Canalside and we want to do more. So we are asking the best minds in the country - planners, designers, community groups - to give us ideas to revitalize the Skyway. The request for submissions will go out today and I think it will elicit a number of proposals, and there will be a community participation process, and then we will pick a winner."

Congressman Brian Higgins said: "For too long the Skyway has hung over this city as a structure intended to serve yesterday's Buffalo, one that takes people up and away from our waterfront instead of one that invites people in. The governor's initiative invites creative ideas to facilitate better connections to our waterfront destinations, create alternative transportation options and tear down barriers to greater economic opportunities."

Assembly member Sean Ryan said, "The Skyway was originally built to serve as a vital part of our traffic infrastructure, but it's becoming clear this roadway may not be a viable part of our future transportation plans. This competition will help to showcase innovative ideas for what the future of the waterfront will look like, and develop creative solutions on how to redevelop traffic patterns to accommodate motorists.  I look forward to seeing the ideas that come forward as a result of this competition, and I applaud governor Cuomo for working to find a creative solution to an issue that will impact the Buffalo Waterfront for generations to come.”

The process involves a two-part submission. Part 1, open now, allows respondents to provide an overview of their idea and how it addresses the main objectives and constraints of the competition. Submissions will be evaluated for responsiveness to the goals of the competition, technical complexity and feasibility. The deadline for Part 1 submissions is 3pm on 28 June. Up to 20 Part 1 respondents will then be invited to proceed to Part 2.