The “Public Trust Doctrine” protects community parkland from takings for non-park use without approval by the NYS Legislature. Sixty years ago, Albany took 14 acres for non-park, transportation use. The Legislature did NOT approve the taking, but the road remains in violation of law. It is time to take it back!
The SCC is NOT sponsoring this event – it is posted for informational purposes.
The event is labeled a call “TO SAVE US FROM NYS DOT!”
You may wish to join this group on bicycle, foot, skateboard or
rollerblades to protest the New York State
Department of Transportation’s plan to
ignore the public’s call to rightsize
the Scajaquada and restore Olmsted’s
original vision for our park!
Transportation projects must have “logical termini,” which is to say that the scope and extent of the project must make sense. When Albany started on its plans to reconstruct Rt. 198, the project extended from the Kensington Expressway (Rt. 33) to the Niagara Thruway (I-190). Albany has regularly referred to the “crucial link” between these two “logical termini” (even though less that 20% of traffic goes from one terminus to the other). The recognition of the start and end points of Rt. 198 for the project was logical, everyone accepted that. At last the idea of funneling a huge volume of vehicle traffic into Delaware Park could be addressed.
Then, a few years ago and without any explanation, Albany decided it would only deal with Rt. 198 from Parkside Avenue to Grant Street. It cut the start and end points out of the project. thus sparing itself the need to figure out how to address the problems at both ends.
The eastern, Main Street terminus involves the fundamental flaw of a massive underpass that diverts a huge amount of traffic to Agassiz Circle and Parkside Avenue instead of (logically) to Buffalo’s “Main” Street. (Anyone who attempts to exit from Rt. 33 to Main Street knows of the impossible configuration created by the DOT decision to have one lane end in a stop sign at Kensington.)
It is at the western end, however, that the DOT’s abandonment of the logical terminus leaves in place a dangerous condition. The exit from Rt. 198 to northbound I-190, and to southbound I-190 as well, has a dangerously short merge area. An incident on Aug. 24 caused by the short merge resulted in a huge traffic snarl when a dump truck hit a car (see photo above from Buffalo News). Locals call the DOT’s configuration the “spaghetti” approach because of the interweaving fly-overs and difficult merges, and there have been many accidents.
The problematic eastern and western ends of Rt. 198 desperately need to be addressed, but DOT cannot figure out how. So they left the problems in place. We deserve better planning.
Printed in Buffalo News By Staff – Published August 29, 2017
Plans for Delaware Park will create new problems
The public is waking up to Albany’s plans for a limited-access highway through Delaware Park. Where there is now some traffic flow, Albany plans to construct two new Sheridan Drive-type intersections. Those multilane intersections, with their unsightly traffic signals, combined with new pedestrian crossings, with more traffic signals, will convert the drive through Delaware Park into a Sheridan Drive experience, and then some. It will be a disaster!
The Department of Transportation says accidents are down 25 percent since the speed limit was lowered to 30 miles per hour in the park. Introducing new intersections will increase the rate of accidents if traffic studies are correct. Moreover, the park user’s experience will be harshly affected by what Albany intends with this new construction. This includes the experience of the hundreds of soccer kids who will be playing just a few yards from one of the massive new intersections.
It is not right for Albany to impose these kinds of problems. Imagine how New York City would react if Albany decided to put new signalized intersections inside Central Park. Our parks should be enhanced, not destroyed.
The City of Buffalo has officially asked the DOT to go back to the drawing board and to give us something the community will accept. Buffalo deserves better.
Alan J. Bozer
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.
/s Byron W. Brown
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.
August 22, 2017
Mr. Craig Mozrall, PE
New York State Department of Transportation Region 5
100 Seneca Street
Buffalo, NY 14203
RE: COMMENTS ON ROUTE 198 PROJECT
Dear Mr. Mozrall,
I write on behalf of Vision Niagara, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization devoted to the revitalization of
Buffalo’s Niagara Street Corridor. Because this corridor is home to the western terminus of Route 198 and
Scajaquada Creek, we are interested stakeholders in the future of Route 198 and the Scajaquada Corridor.
We are extremely disappointed with State Department of Transportation’s current plan for Route 198, and we
ask DOT to reconsider the plan put forth by the Olmsted Parks Conservancy. It is a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity to reconnect our city’s signature Olmsted park. Moreover, our community deserves a parkappropriate
roadway that provides safe access for park users, bolsters the economy through tourism and cultural
connection, and moves our city closer to Olmsted’s original intent.
The DOT’s plan also fails to address Route 198 west of Grant Street, where it adversely impacts Niagara Street and Scajaquada Creek. A park-appropriate roadway that continues along the natural waterway of Scajaquada Creek would reunite neighborhoods, promote public health, and serve as an economic catalyst, opening up new waterfront real estate for development. One needs only to look at the renaissance of the Buffalo River to appreciate the potential benefits of a downgraded roadway along Scajaquada Creek.
In sum, the DOT’s current plan simply prioritizes rote vehicular service over the cultural, tourism, environmental, public health, and economic benefits that a park-appropriate roadway would bring.
On behalf of Vision Niagara, I sincerely ask that you reconsider the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy’s vision for the Scajaquada Boulevard and that you prioritize our community.
Barbara Rowe, Board President
Vision Niagara, PO Box 281, Buffalo, NY 14213, firstname.lastname@example.org
National Association For Olmsted Parks
August 22, 2017
Mr. Craig Mozrall, PE
NYSDOT Region 5
100 Seneca Street
Buffalo, NY 14203
Dear Mr. Mozrall:
The National Association for Olmsted Parks (NAOP) is writing in support of Mayor Brown, the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, and all Buffalo citizens who are seeking a redesign and new planning approach for the NYS Route 198 Corridor Project (Scajaquada Expressway) as currently promoted by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). Since its construction in the 1960s, at the height of the national urban highway boom that destroyed the livability of so many of our American cities, the Scajaquada Expressway has detracted from, and adversely impacted, a nationally significant historic designed landscape resource: The 150-year-old park and boulevard system designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. Buffalo was the first city in the nation where Olmsted and Vaux were able to achieve much of their intended park-parkway designs as armature to shape responsible city growth. Over the past decades, Buffalo leaders have made great improvements to protect, rehabilitate and enhance this timeless vision and to thread the experience of landscape and nature throughout the city as an amenity to the urban environment.
Without consideration of Buffalo’s built heritage, the Scajaquada Expressway as originally located, deleteriously severed the scenic integrity of the 19th century Delaware park and its larger setting, robbing citizens of the intended restorative recreational values. Now is the time to thoughtfully step back from a failing infrastructure project to a corridor project that considers the natural and cultural assets that Buffalo’s earlier city leaders envisioned as beneficial and accessible to all in this corridor. A corridor improvement plan that does not critically evaluate the impact of the redesigned road in the context of the city’s investments in, and enjoyment of, its cultural and recreational institutions will result in more than a missed opportunity. Millions of capital dollars will be spent on corridor improvements that will fail to provide residents, park users, and motorists alike an experience of nature and design that city leaders over the past centuries have promoted. Such spending will also fail to support the urban revival around which Buffalo is currently rebounding.
Thank you for considering these concerns.
Lucy Lawliss, FASLA
Arleyn Levee, Hon. ASLA
cc: Matthew J. Driscoll, Commissioner NYDOT;
Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Governor;
Byron Brown, City of Buffalo Mayor;
Stephanie Crockatt, Executive Director BOPC
1200 18th Street NW Suite 700 Washington, D.C. 20036
PHONE: 202-223-9113 INFO@NAOP.ORG
An at-grade crossing of Delaware Avenue was designed by DOT in 2010, now they say it cannot be done because of an archaeological site! No better example of Albany’s determination to do it their way despite other reasonable alternatives than this – DOT says an at-grade crossing is not possible because it would disturb archaeological sites, yet the agency designed a crossing in 2010!
The presentation of August 9 disappointed the community’s interest in restoring and enhancing venerable Delaware Park. The big picture, is about correcting a mistake from the 1950’s, which Albany officials recognize as a “sin,” and about restoring Olmsted’s vision for Buffalo’s crown-jewel of parks.
The SCC favored one intersection solution to crossing Delaware Avenue (as pictured) remains achievable notwithstanding doomsday predictions. Delaware Park will never win an argument over whether traffic will run through it faster if more cement is poured atop, but even so this is a choice of the lesser of evils. Albany’s current plan places a massive, signaled intersection within yards of hundreds of kids playing soccer, as well as a number of pedestrian crossings, all of which will slow traffic.
If Albany’s stated threat stands to take its money and go home if we do not accept their current plan, then the answer is simple – we have waited sixty years to correct the mistakes of the 1950s and to restore the Olmsted vision. Better to correct it properly and wait a few years than to accept further degradation of our nationally recognized Park.
Buffalo is proud to be an Olmsted city. Olmsted designed Delaware Park as a unified whole. Here is our vision to unite the park. This is an opportunity not just to restore Olmsted’s original design in large part, but to create a better Park for us and generations to come!