Proposed Plan for Scajaquada Transformation Does Not Achieve Community’s Vision

 

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has announced the next public hearing to solicit public feedback for their plan to transform the Scajaquada Expressway into a Boulevard on December 14, 2016, at the Fredrick Law Olmsted Public School 64 auditorium (874 Amherst Street) beginning at 5:30 pm. The project is currently scheduled to allow construction to begin in fall 2017.

Based on our initial review, the Scajaquada Corridor Coalition (SCC), which represents multiple stakeholders, including the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, the Parkside Community Association, and GObike Buffalo, as well as community groups and thousands of individuals, opposes the current project design because it fails to meet the aspirational vision laid out by Governor Cuomo and supported by the community since this process began in 2001.

As we have seen in the City of Buffalo as well as cities across the state and country, communities desire Complete Streets. Through complete streets, we are developing multi-modal networks that provide safe access to jobs, education, health care and other essential services for all roadway users. This makes walking, biking and public transit viable transportation choices for everyone while contributing to the health, equity, economic vibrancy and quality of life in our city.

These objectives have not been met in NYSDOT’s current plan; instead, their proposed design continues to perpetuate the challenges of a limited access expressway with a 30MPH speed limit. The SCC vehemently opposes the current boulevard design due to:

  • The lack of a meaningful and engaging public input process while NYSDOT ignores multiple submissions by community organizations with constructive recommendations;
  • Prioritization of vehicle traffic over the safety of vulnerable users through:
    • Over-sized intersections that will make crossings unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists;
    • Medians throughout the corridor at the expense of park space and on-street bicycle facilities; and
    • Adverse impacts upon the Historic Olmsted Park and Parkway System as well as the surrounding cultural and educational institutions and business districts; and
  • The plan’s limited scope, including the absence of addressing impacted communities west of Grant Street and east of Parkside Avenue.

As the New Buffalo continues to re-invent itself becoming a great city once again, NYSDOT is stuck in the Robert Moses-era of planning mistakes by focusing singularly on moving vehicles through our community. At no additional cost, the community’s Scajaquada Boulevard vision could cement our city’s renaissance if vehicle traffic is not the sole consideration of its design; instead, people are.