Tag Archives: rightsize198

The Scajaquada, a Freeway without a Future

The Congress for the New Urbanism recently published their Freeways Without Futures 2017 report, listing ten highways throughout the country that are in urgent need of removal due to their negative impacts on the surrounding areas. Number one of the list? The Scajaquada Expressway.

The organization notes,

“These ten highways are opportunities for progress. Each one presents the chance to remove a blight from the physical, economic, and environmental health of urban communities. Their intended benefits have not justified the tragic consequences, but converting these highways into human-scaled streets offers a chance to begin repairing the damage. From Buffalo to San Francisco, these are the freeways without futures.”

For a full outline of the top ten highways in America that have no future, visit this article.

We 100% agree the removal of the Scajaquada Expressway is an opportunity for progress in our city. We also understand suburban commuters may have concerns about how the downgrading may affect their commute, addressed below.

Myth #1: Removing an Urban Freeway Will Make Your Commute Longer

Fact: Numerous examples show that this is not the case. In fact, freeways are inefficient mechanisms for handling traffic. In most cases, surface streets (the urban grid) can carry the same amount or more traffic than the highway because there are many chances to enter and exit, and thus many possible routes. Freeways are a magnet for traffic; rather than alleviating traffic congestion, freeways concentrate it, leading to massive traffic jams on and near them, and under-use of existing infrastructure elsewhere. Typically, arterial roads near freeways function well below capacity, which can in fact damage the prospects of businesses located along them. In no example of an American freeway removal have travel times increased significantly. In fact, because of more efficient use of the urban grid, some trips may get faster!

Myth #2: Removing a Freeway Will Damage the City and Regional Economy

Fact: The economic benefits of freeway removal are in fact vast and far outweigh any possible negatives. A strong center city is the best indicator of an economically healthy region. Freeway removal is a correction of a mid-century paradigm that saw cities as little more than convenient parking lots for commuters. Removing freeways restores the urban fabric, unlocking hundreds of millions of dollars of land value, and bringing significant additional tax revenue to city coffers. And that doesn’t even count the traffic safety and air pollution benefits that accrue when communities remove a freeway.

Myth #3: New Freeway Capacity Could Reduce Existing Congestion

Fact: New freeway capacity tends to fill up almost as soon as it is built. This is a well-established principle that is known as “triple convergence” (in time, location, and route choice) or “induced demand.” Building new freeway capacity will not reduce a city’s problems with congestion. We need a new approach that emphasizes multimodalism—walking, transit, biking, and giving people options besides driving alone—and that best utilizes existing infrastructure.

Myth #4: Freeways are Fiscally Efficient and the Alternatives are Not

Fact: Many freeways carry far fewer cars than they were designed for, and all freeways, especially those that are built on a viaduct or in a trench in an urban area, are massively expensive to maintain. No road in the United States pays for itself, and with the gas tax not being raised since 1993, there is no sign that they will any time soon. Many urban freeways were built in an era when engineers believed traffic would increase forever, a world which we now realize is both undesirable and not around the corner. Thus many freeways, in midsize cities especially, have massive unused capacity which would be wasteful even if the area experienced rapid growth.

NYSDOT: We Want a Right-Sized 198!

Let NYSDOT know that we do not support their preferred design for the Scajaquada Corridor and that we want it right-sized. Please consider using the below template for your letter before the public comment period ends on February 8, 2017. Please email support letter to the Regional Director’s Office (scajaquadacorridor@dot.ny.gov).

You can also sign our petition here.

Proposed Letter to NYSDOT

 

Frank Cirillo, Regional Director

New York State Department of Transportation

100 Seneca Street

Buffalo, NY 14203

 

January 13, 2017

 

Re: Right Size the Scajaquada Expressway

Dear Mr. Cirillo:

(You or your organization) is writing to express our displeasure with the New York State Department of Transportation’s (NYSDOT’s) current design for the conversion of the Scajaquada Expressway to a Boulevard.

The narrow set of design parameters used in the Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) focuses on vehicle level of service, congestion relief, and operational safety effectively establishing a 30 mph limited-access expressway while offering limited accommodation and safety improvements for walking, bicycling and accessing public transit. Being maintained as a limited access expressway fails to meet Governor Cuomo’s transformational vision and will ultimately attract more traffic, create congestion and worsen the safety of the corridor for all users other than vehicles.

The current design in the DEIS creates more problems in Delaware Park. Delaware Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, is recognized as one of the top parks in the country and the world, but the DEIS creates huge intersections that impair the Park’s beauty while increasing noise and visual pollution. The DEIS also continues the separation of the Park into two halves separated by the barrier of the roadway.

While Buffalo’s expressways have provided vehicular access to downtown, they disrupted Olmsted’s Delaware Park and Humboldt Parkway, as well as the existing urban grid and street system. They severed local commercial activity from customers, and many once vibrant streets now stand with shuttered businesses and negligible street activity. Over the life of these expressways, it has become clear that in addition to significant long-term maintenance costs, these roads contribute to environmental degradation and negative public health impacts. Our expressways occupy valuable real estate without contributing to the tax base, while increasing blight and decreasing property values nearby. They create barriers to movement within our city, institutionalize social inequities, and encourage suburban sprawl.

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 a viable transportation choice 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 30 MPH speed limit.

(You or your organization) 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;
    • Lack of dedicated bicycle infrastructure;
    • 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, including the continued barrier against movement between the Meadow and Hoyt Lake in Delaware Park and the obliteration of Agassiz Circle;
    • Adverse impacts upon 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.

Before (you or your organization) can support any plan to transform the Scajaquada corridor, NYSDOT needs to address the community’s priorities and demonstrate that this project will have a positive impact on economic development, public health, environmental sustainability and the quality of life of all residents.

Sincerely,

(Your name)

(Your name)

Scajaquada Slow Roll not Approved

After extensive discussions, the Scajaquada Corridor Coalition (SCC) and GObike Buffalo have not been granted the necessary approvals to host a Slow Roll on the Scajaquada on October 12th. Due to the short time frame, safety concerns and costs it became apparent that this was too ambitious to pull off.

All contributions via Gofundme will be refunded. There will still be a Slow Roll on Monday, October 12th, with another new route departing from the originally scheduled location of Big Ditch Brewing Company, 55 E. Huron St.

We are disappointed, but not defeated – while we look to a future date for this ride, anyone interested in this issue is encouraged to keep in touch with the Scajaquada Corridor Coalition (SCC) and our continued effort to rightsize Route 198 (‪#‎rightsize198‬). The SCC will receive the $288 in cash donations collected after last night’s ride to support their efforts.

We appreciate all who’ve supported this effort and Slow Roll Buffalo in general!

Short-term Additions to 198 are Vital

On behalf of more than 100 organizations and 3,000 citizens, the Scajaquada Corridor Coalition submitted comments to NYSDOT today regarding the community’s vision for future of the 198.

Right-sizing the Scajaquada has been the desire of the community for more than 15 years. Although the speed reduction to 30 mph on the expressway began the transition, there are still many improvements to be made, all of which lie in NYSDOT’s hands.

The SCC finds NYSDOT’s proposal to not implement any short-term measures for the next four to six years to be unacceptable. Without short-term physical measures in place to clue motorists to the 30 mph posted speed, the Scajaquada remains a mismatched route designed with a highway feel but with a 30 mph speed limit. In addition to being both dangerous and confusing for motorists, the plan continues to neglect the repeatedly expressed concerns of the surrounding community.

The SCC has requested the following changes to be implemented as soon as possible:

  • Traffic calming measures, including speed transitions from I-190 and Route 33 such as strategically placed rumble strips, overhead signs, streetscapes, streetlights, and intersections;
  • Lane width reduction from 12′ to 11′;
  • Shoulder with rumble strips to reinforce narrower lanes;
  • Removal of the median barrier;
  • A bicycle and pedestrian plan including sidewalks, bike lanes, and raised crosswalks; and
  • Focused landscaping developments at transitions.

To read the letter in its entirety, please click here.

DOT Lame Duck in 198 Planning, Says Citizen

A recent opinion article by Alan Bozer published in the Buffalo News expressed disappointment in NYSDOT’s Scajaquada public meeting on September 16. As noted by Bozer, the meeting simply regurgitated previous statements on the Scajaquada, adding only a traffic study conducted which found that decreasing traffic on the Scajaquada would cause an increase in traffic elsewhere.

“Naturally, taking traffic off the former expressway will increase traffic elsewhere, but it was difficult to understand how and why, and whether the assumption built in the fact that in similar instances in other cities where urban freeways have been removed, traffic simply reroutes itself. Besides, this should be more about urban planning than simply how to get vehicles from point A to point B,” writes Bozer.

“Times have changed. The public counts. The DOT needs to be more accountable to the public, and to get things done.”

Click here for the entire article.

NYSDOT Provides an Update on Scajaquada Expressway

NYSDOT has provided a response to two letters submitted by the SCC regarding the future of the Scajaquada Expressway. The letter provided information on the comprehensive environmental review currently underway by NYSDOT, which includes:

  • Examining full complement of alternatives with speed limits set at 40 and 30 mph;
  • 4 lane and 2 lane options within Delaware park; and
  • Analysis of full removal of the roadway between Parkside Avenue and Elmwood Avenue.

Evaluations are expected to be complete and presented at the public information session on September 16.

NYSDOT also confirmed that they have initiated the process of changing the classification of the road from a principal urban arterial-expressway.

The community has been fighting for a 30 mph speed limit on the Scajaquada Expressway for more than a decade. Governor Cuomo has also supported a 30 mph speed limit, so we are eager to hear NYSDOT’s reasoning for an analysis of 40 mph. Please join us at the Frederick Law Olmsted Public School 64 on Wednesday, September 16, at 5:00 pm to show your support for the calming of the Scajaquada.

Click here to read the entire letter from NYSDOT.

NYSDOT to Host Public Information Meeting on the Scajaquada Expressway on September 16

NYSDOT will host a public information meeting on Wednesday, September 16, at 5 to 8:30 pm to discuss proposed project alternatives to transform the Scajaquada Expressway from an urban expressway to an urban boulevard that is in harmony with the surrounding community. The meeting will be held in the auditorium of Frederick Law Olmsted Public School 64, located at 874 Amherst Street at Lincoln Parkway in the City of Buffalo.

The meeting will include an informal open house with displays about the proposed project. A formal presentation and panel discussion about project objectives and the alternatives being studied is scheduled for 7 p.m. NYSDOT representatives will be available to receive public comments and answer questions. 

We greatly encourage all supporters of the Scajaquada Corridor Coalition to attend the event. We also encourage all supporters to review the 2005 short-term and long-term plans developed with extensive community input, which the Scajaquada Corridor Coalition continues to support.

The Scajaquada Corridor Coalition is particularly concerned with NYSDOT addressing the following points:

  • All proven traffic calming techniques should be applied to the project area to establish a 30mph design speed and create a safe and more accessible urban boulevard.
  • Additional opportunities for public access crossing the Scajaquada via bicycle and pedestrian are needed.
  • Adequate crosswalks with the appropriate safe crossing treatments.
  • The Parkside and Scajaquada intersection should be greatly improved to provide a safer pedestrian crossing for the neighborhood and students from Medaille College that use it, current alternatives do not adequately address this issue.
  • Roadway design and landscape restoration should be employed to minimize the intrusion of vehicle travel through the historic landscape of Delaware Park to the greatest extent possible.
  • The Main Street intersection at the Scajaquada needs to be improved for pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles.  Improved access to and exit from the Route 198 corridor at Main Street is a critical part of improvements within the entire corridor.  All pedestrian crossings do not meet the state standard for safety.
  • Create a complete street that accommodates all roadway users; this includes vehicles, commuting bicyclists, recreational bicyclists, recreational joggers and walkers.
  • On-street bike lanes and pedestrian walkways are desired connecting to the citywide network.
  • Gateways should be established within each end of the corridor honoring the historical significance of this area by creating a welcoming and inspiring user experience.
  • Storm water runoff should be treated naturally throughout the entire Scajaquada corridor.
  • Improved ingress/egress from Delaware Park and other facilities is necessary.
  • Establish a long-term maintenance plan with all stakeholders and agencies.
  • Coordination with NFTA to leverage additional investment as a way to encourage alternative modes of transportation and integrate the corridor into the existing metro system.
  • Identify opportunities for additional street connections.

We also greatly encourage those with questions on traffic studies, traffic redirection, and corridor impact to attend the event in order to understand their ongoing analysis.

 For more information on the press conference and NYSDOT’s current reconfiguration efforts, see NYSDOT’s press release.