Not so fast! Debating calls to increase speed along Scajaquada

"Is there a better way for us to move people and...build a better quality of life?""

Mike Baggerman
September 09, 2019 - 3:00 am

WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Joel Giambra's petition to increase the speed of the Scajaquada Corridor from 30 miles per hour to 50 miles per hour was met with some resistance. https://wben.radio.com/articles/petition-seeks-ramp-speed-scajaquada

Justin Booth, the co-chair of the Scajaquada Corridor Coalition, a group that advocates for an improved quality of life, increased access to Olmsted Parks, and safer vehicular traffic, said that Giambra's petition had "misinformation". Booth said he supports the current speed limit of the corridor because of its impact on public safety and he said the most appropriate action by the state would be to survey the community throughout the process to redesign the road.

"Prior to when the speed was 55 miles per hour, it took three minutes to get from end to end during peak travel times and rush hour traffic," Booth said. "(When they) moved that speed limit down to 30 miles per hour, according to the DOT, the increase went from three minutes to six minutes...Messing around with the speed limits one way or another right now I don't think is going to solve any of the issues."

Booth also said that the majority of people who use the 198 don't use it from end-to-end. He said that since the speed limit dropped, there have been fewer car accidents.

Giambra argued that the speed limit was reduced to 30 as a "knee-jerk reaction" by the governor in response to the 2015 accident that took the life of three-year-old Maksym Sugorovskiy, when a driver fell asleep at the wheel, jumped the curb, and struck the boy.

"I use that corridor often," Giambra told WBEN. "I've yet to find anybody who thinks that changing the speed limit to 30MPH was an effective mitigation for an unfortunate situation."

In January 2018, NYSDOT abandoned plans to change the Scajaquada Corridor after blowback from the community and said they will continue to engage with stakeholders to make safety improvements. Booth said a revamped corridor needs to have a better quality of life and mentioned places like Niagara Falls' plans of the Robert Moses Expressway and other major DOT plans across New York State in places like Rochester, Syracuse, and New York City.

"Over and over, we're seeing many communities in not just New York State, but across the country, take a look at their legacy infrastructure," Booth said. "As we get to the point where they need to be replaced and millions of dollars are needed to maintain it, we are seeing more people in the community saying if it's the right decision for us to do in the first place? Is there a better way for us to move people and at the same time, build a better quality of life?"

Booth said a petition with a few thousands of signatures pales in comparison to the past efforts against the corridor. He admitted that he's been frustrated with the lack of progress in the corridor over the last several years.

"We are looking forward to working with the state and looking forward to their announcement in the next couple weeks of announcing a new process to get the community engaged in," he said.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said that the city has heard from many people who have wanted a speed increase outside of the Delaware Park area.

"We've received hundreds of calls and comments from people about that," Brown said. "It's a state project. I know the state has a very deliberative process. They are looking at it. The city wants to make sure traffic is not spilled into the adjoining residential neighborhoods and creating traffic and safety problems for North Buffalo residents. That's one of the major concerns of the city."

He said the city has made some recommendations to New York State and believes the state has accepted those recommendations.

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