View of old Downtown Buffal

The project is located in and near the Outer Harbor area of the City of Buffalo, New York. The project focuses on the section of NYS Route 5, also known as the Buffalo Skyway, between Tifft Street and Church Street.

The 110-foot "high-level bridge" opened in 1955, followed by Interstate 190 in 1959 and the Skyway’s elevated Outer Harbor expressway segment in the early 1960s. The high-level bridge originally provided access for workers and goods movement to and through the congested industrial waterfront, which included the Bethlehem Steel and Republic Steel plants. However, these plants closed in the early 1980s. The Skyway now largely serves daily commuter traffic from Buffalo’s southern suburbs, or "the Southtowns."

Over the past few decades, the land use in the area has changed, with a focus on recreational, mixed-use, and waterfront development. However, the existing configuration of the Skyway is a physical and visual obstacle to maximizing the use of the waterfront and continuing the economic transformation of the area.

In 2019, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued a challenge to reimagine the Buffalo Skyway Corridor through the Aim for the Sky design competition. Governor Cuomo announced the winner of the design competition on September 17, 2019. The NYSDOT considered the concepts from the design competition in establishing a reasonable range of alternatives for the project.