The Design Review Committee has been carefully reviewing the current DEIS plan by the New York State Department of Transportation. Immediate concerns include the following, but be sure to revisit this page as these concerns remain under review.
New York State Route 33, the Kensington Expressway, has exits from both directions that feed into NYS Route 198. However, instead of the first principal exit being to Main Street (indeed, Buffalo’s very much “Main Street”), traffic is funneled under Main Street to Agassiz Circle and Parkside Avenue. This results in a large volume of traffic coming into an area that has never been prepared for it. The challenges of the Main Street intersection were reviewed over many years of the DOT study. However, DOT unilaterally decided sometime after a meeting in 2014, without explanation, to segment off the eastern gateway, Main Street-Kensington intersection from its work and to proceed only on the segment of Route 198 between Agassiz Circle/Parkside Avenue and Grant Street – below is a DOT designed approach.
At the western gateway, DOT’s arbitrary decision to limit the scope of the project likewise effectively puts an immense amount of traffic onto a roadway that will traverse the Park.
DOT’s segmentation decision results in a status quo of tens of thousands of vehicles being funneled into the Scajaquada Corridor, the great majority of which do not transit from Rt. 33 to I-190. However, the law does not favor segmentation.
A recent decision by the New York State Court of appeals determined that the “owner” of a roadway (e.g. city, state, etc.) will be held liable to the extent that the roadway creates safety issues. Traffic calming is the responsibility of the State in the case of Route 198. However, the DOT continues to envision Route 198 as a limited access highway, with long stretches of pavement having no traffic calming measures. From the community’s point of view, this is a safety concern that needs to be addressed because it fails to address safety issues including speeding.
The community has complained over the years about the difficulties in crossing Route 198. A prime example is Agassiz Circle, which has been virtually obliterated in the current DOT plan for a vast expanse of concrete (shown here).
It is foreseeable that families, the elderly, the disabled, and others will have difficulties crossing the eight-nine lanes of traffic in the current DOT design. The current design is worse than what is there now, which is pretty bad. The SCC has advocated for the restoration of Agassiz Circle. Ironically, while DOT continues its destructive attitude toward Agassiz Circle on the eastern end of Route 198, which was designed by Olmsted nearly 150 years ago, it proposes to build a new traffic circle at the western end at Grant Street.
DOT plans introduce two intersections just east of Delaware Avenue (shown here).
The two intersections, it is said, will provide pedestrian and bicycle traffic access from the Meadow to Hoyt Lake, but anyone undertaking this transit will be faced with seven lanes to cross at Rt. 98, and another seven lanes to cross at Delaware Avenue. Families, the elderly , the disabled, etc. will be discouraged from transit by the logistics and by safety concerns.
Moreover, placing an intersection on Rt. 198 next to the Point-of-the-Meadow means that noisy and polluting traffic will be stopping and starting a mere 50 yards from where hundreds of children play soccer. Idling cars waste fuel, cause excessive carbon-dioxide pollution, and of course, cost money. (Did you know: It takes more gas to idle for 10 seconds than to turn the car off and back on again.)
Access between the two halves of Delaware Park.
The SCC has strongly argued that any new plans should allow the reunification of Delaware Park. In his design of Delaware Park, Frederick Law Olmsted provided for a bridge over Delaware Avenue to be used by park users, e.g. pedestrians, bicyclists, equestrians, etc. The original bridge had shrubbery and other means for shielding park users from the passage of traffic below on Delaware Avenue, much the same as he planned in Central Park. This was the means by which the two parts of Delaware Park, the Meadow and Hoyt Lake, were united.
The SCC proposes one at-grade intersection of Route 198 at Delaware Avenue as previously presented in the 2005 study.
This would reduce the number of intersections from the DOT-proposed two intersections (Rt. 198 and Delaware Avenue) to one (Delaware Avenue only). This simplifies and avoids pedestrian safety concerns by restoring the Delaware Avenue Bridge to park use. Pedestrians, bicyclists, equestrians and others would pass freely from the Meadow across Delaware Avenue Bridge – access from the west side of the Delaware Avenue Bridge to Hoyt Lake would be by crossing over Rt. 198, which would pass below through a tunnel or under a bridge.
DOT proposes to have approximately five pedestrian crossings of Route 198. Those pedestrian crossing would be raised from the roadbed and would include traffic signals. However, those crossings would not be as safe as allowing the Delaware Avenue Bridge to be restored to park use, which avoids pedestrian-vehicle confrontations.
The SCC is opposed to medians within the park. The roadway should be minimized with a more narrow footprint. While DOT says it will maintain the shrubberies and other growth on the medians, experience indicates that the DOT budget does not always meet its commitments.
Various federal statutes require special care when parkland is being taken for non-parkland use. The current defects in DOT’s plans simply encourages potential litigation over safety concerns, parkland conversion, etc.