City of Buffalo Tells DOT to return to the Design Table

The City of Buffalo “is calling for a third party to restart the dialogue with a fresh perspective that is focused on building consensus around an alternative that is acceptable to all parties.”  The City also objects to the State taking historic Delaware Park land.

The following is the full text of a letter to NYSDOT from Byron W. Brown, Mayor of the City of Buffalo

RE: · City of Buffalo Comments- Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)

Rt. 198 Scajaquada Corridor Improvement Project

Dear Mr. Cirillo,

The City of Buffalo (City) has been engaged in the Rt. 198 Scajaquada Corridor Improvement Project since it sponsored an Enhanced Project Proposal (EPP) for the corridor in 2005. The project analysis has evolved significantly since that time, most recently following the State’s decision to reduce the speed limit to 30 miles per hour (mph). The City appreciates the NYSDOT’s commitment to the co rridor and to continuing the conversation on what the future holds for it. The most recent effort to advance plans for a $100M investment in the corridor has left many community residents feeling dissatisfied with the current preferred alternative. Those residents, some in favor of additional measures to increase pedestrian and bicycle safety directly on Rt. 198 potentially at the expense of vehicle mobility and others in favor of returning to more of an expressway with varying degrees of speed limit increase, have approached my office advocating for their various viewpoints. The City’s belief at this time is that the lack of community consensus for the future of the Scajaquada Corridor requires that additional evaluation, public outreach and public education be undertaken. The City appreciates the process that the DOT has undertaken to date, however, the process has moved so quickly since the State changed the speed limit that there has not been adequate time to fully develop consensus around the future of the corridor. It is for this reason that the City is calling for a third party to restart the dialogue with a fresh perspective that is focused on building consensus around an alternative that is acceptable to all parties.

The City would also like to see the formulation of a Design Advisory Committee that guides the technical analysis on the future of the corridor. A similar committee was developed for the Fuhrmann Boulevard project and the City sees the function of the committee as being able to bring a combination of technical and local expertise to the table that will help to guide this project toward a meaningful outcome. I would recommend that the committee size be kept to a smaller number of members so that conversations can be efficient and productive. The City would also very much like the opportunity to appoint several members to the committee.

I have also enclosed a number of technical comments on the project and the DEIS that have been developed by staff of the Department of Public Works, Parks and Streets and the Mayor’s Office for Strategic Planning.

The City appreciates the Governor’s and NYSDOT’s commitment to this project and the City of Buffalo.  This letter should not be interpreted to take away from any of the efforts or actions that have been completed to date. The City is committed to playing its part in guiding this project toward broad community consensus so that it is a shining jewel for years to come.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me at 851-4841.

Sincerely,

/s Byron W. Brown

Mayor

Chapter 5 – Draft Section 4(F) Evaluation and Right of Way takings:

The City objects to the taking of the property that Rt. 198 occupies through the historic Delaware Park.  A transfer of property was not executed at the time of the original construction and the City believes that it is fair to assume that it did not occur because of the sensitive nature of the land through Delaware Park.

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