Tag Archives: scajaquada

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)

Proposed Plan for Scajaquada Transformation Does Not Achieve Community’s Vision

 

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has announced the next public hearing to solicit public feedback for their plan to transform the Scajaquada Expressway into a Boulevard on December 14, 2016, at the Fredrick Law Olmsted Public School 64 auditorium (874 Amherst Street) beginning at 5:30 pm. The project is currently scheduled to allow construction to begin in fall 2017.

Based on our initial review, the Scajaquada Corridor Coalition (SCC), which represents multiple stakeholders, including the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, the Parkside Community Association, and GObike Buffalo, as well as community groups and thousands of individuals, opposes the current project design because it fails to meet the aspirational vision laid out by Governor Cuomo and supported by the community since this process began in 2001.

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 viable transportation choices 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 30MPH speed limit. The SCC vehemently 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;
    • 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 as well as 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.

As the New Buffalo continues to re-invent itself becoming a great city once again, NYSDOT is stuck in the Robert Moses-era of planning mistakes by focusing singularly on moving vehicles through our community. At no additional cost, the community’s Scajaquada Boulevard vision could cement our city’s renaissance if vehicle traffic is not the sole consideration of its design; instead, people are.

Mayor Brown to Ride Slow Roll Buffalo Parkway Revival Ride

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Great news! Mayor Byron Brown announced today that he will be riding in Slow Roll Buffalo’s Parkway Revival Ride on Sunday, 5/8.

The Slow Roll will depart from the Marcy Casino in Delaware park on Sunday, May 8, at 1 pm.  The ride is a statement for right-sizing the Scajaquada and Kensington Expressways to restore Olmsted’s vision for our city in order to re-knit our community back together—something we have been advocating for since 2001.

NYSDOT to Solicit Community Comments on Short-Term 198 Plans

The SCC is encouraged by the change in position by the NYSDOT regarding their approach on the short term measures for the former Scajaquada expressway. Our members have been concerned over the location of their proposed crosswalks and approach to the short term improvements. We continue to support the short term measures defined in the 2005 Expanded Project Proposal created by the NYSDOT and City of Buffalo. These plans where community vetted, and supported providing the essential ground work for the path moving forward. (See our 9/30 letter to NYSDOT)

It is with these plans in place that we call on the NYSDOT to immediately hold community meetings to further refine these approaches. We strongly request that no additional time be wasted so a meaningful and productive discussion can be had prior to implementation in early spring, if not sooner. This is an opportunity to transcend the  Scajaquada corridor into a community asset that benefits the neighborhoods, park, cultural institutions and schools that align it.