Buffalo is not really like other cities and metro areas. How can you compare downgrading the Scajaquada to highway removal in NYC, Toronto, Milwaukee, Portland and San Francisco?
None of these places are exactly alike but they all had similar outcomes that are a sign of things to expect when changing the Scajaquada to meet community aspirations. These outcomes include improved safety for all users, reduction of the number of auto trips, spillover traffic is easily absorbed, removal does not require a major shift in transit, increased property values, more attractive to investors and visitors, and reduction in crime. For more information, check out the Campaign to Right-size the Scajaquada under the resources tab.
What data is currently being collected on the changes already made to the street? How have these calming measures affected traffic since the lowering of the speed limit?
These are good questions that need to be relayed to the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). However, right-sizing the Scajaquada Expressway is a conversation that has been on-going for over a decade. A complete plan and study was completed in 2004 by NYSDOT and city of Buffalo providing an analysis for both the implementation of short-term and long-term measures that the SCC continues to encourage NYSDOT to follow. Community members directly affected by this change in the Parkside Community have noticed reduced traffic volumes, reduced noise levels and overall improved quality of life. It is also important to note that at the same time the speed reduction occurred the Elmwood Avenue bridge construction occurred which has lead to increased truck traffic in the some areas.
Has there been any thought to depressing the 198 and providing handicap accessible walkways over the roadway?
While the vision of the SCC does not preclude this, it may be cost prohibitive. Examples from other communities including Boston and currently Seattle, which have both seen tremendous cost overruns (in the billions of dollars) when burying existing freeways.
Is it possible that traffic could be completely removed from Ring Road?
The SCC has not engaged this issue and refers to the Olmsted Conservancy Master Plan recommendations for Delaware Park which can be reviewed here. If this is a community desire it is an important discussion to engage in through the SCC Design committee.
Where will the displaced traffic go, particularly the commercial traffic?
While the speed reduction has added commuter time of 2 minutes to transverse the entire road it has not eliminated the access to commercial traffic. Typically once changes are in place, it takes up to six weeks before drivers adjust. In all the communities that have removed an expressway, traffic has been found to decrease by upwards of 50%. The SCC has been informed by community members that this outcome has already been seen in parts of our community directly impacted by the Scajaquada.
What plans, if any, have been made to plan for equally safe crosswalks, pedestrian signals, bike lanes, etc. for the surrounding streets (specifically Amherst, Forest, Hertel, Nottingham)?
A study has been completed for the Parkside Community and additional work would need to be carried out by NYSDOT, the NFTA, and the City of Buffalo to help mitigate any traffic concerns that right-sizing the Scajaquada would have on the surrounding streets.
How does bicycle and pedestrian access result in traffic calming?
Motorists adjust their behavior in the presence of people walking and bicycling. It results in the majority of drivers reducing their speed and becoming more aware of their surroundings. The more cyclists and pedestrians there are, the more cautious drivers become. This not only makes the road safer for those walking and biking, but for motorists as well.
How are narrower traffic lanes going to increase road safety?
Wider streets cause drivers to travel at a faster speed which results in more damage if they were to hit another vehicle, pedestrian, or cyclist. Narrower streets cause people to drive more cautiously and creates a larger shoulder for pedestrians and cyclists. A recent study presented at the Canadian Institute of Transportation’s annual meeting stated that side impact- and turn-related crash rates are lowest at intersections where average lane widths are between 10 and 10.5 feet. The study can be reviewed here.
What related studies are available to see the potential benefits of “downgrading” the Scajaquada?
There are studies under our highway removal section about other cities around the country that have seen the benefits of “downgrading” or as we like to say “Right-Sizing” their highways. It should be noted that in New York State alone it has been achieved in New York City, Niagara Falls and Rochester while there is also an effort under-foot in Syracuse to right-size I-81.
Can public transit be part of the solution?
Yes! We support public transportation 100% and encouragement is one of our stated goals.
What is the current road classification?
Functional classification is the grouping of highways, roads, and streets by the character of service they provide. Recently, NYSDOT changed the functional classification to a “Principal Arterial – Other” to provide them with the flexibility to implement the design changes identified as part of the current short term design changes to bring driver behavior into alignment with the 30mph speed limit.
What is the history of this project?
- 1999: Advocacy for a downgraded Rte 198
- 2001-2005: Expanded Project Proposal
- 2002: New Millenium Group Report
- 2007: NYSDOT Environmental Impact Study Begins- 3 mtgs
- 2008-2011: 3 Stakeholder mtgs, 3 public mtgs
- March 2012: NYSDOT presents plans to stakeholders
- August 2012: WNYEA Advocacy Plan
- March 2013: Correspondence with NYSDOT objecting to their preferred alternative
- November 2013: Community Meeting held at Olmsted School
- March 2014: Letter from educational and cultural institutions, business districts and community associations
- April 2014: Public meeting with NYSDOT to consider 30 MPH and removal option
- March 2015: Community meeting at Burchfield-Penney
- June 2015: Governor Cuomo immediately reduced the speed limit from 55 to 30 mph following the fatal accident in Delaware Park
- July 2015: The SCC held its inaugural public meeting at the Buffalo History Museum
- August 2015: NYSDOT began work to reduce lane width and installed stop signs at all entrance ramps on the 198
- To Date: Assemblyman Ryan’s petition has 1300+ signatures