Olmsted Parks Conservancy on Scajaquada's Future

Crockatt: "“I really believe they’re trying but this could be so much better."

Mike Baggerman
August 09, 2017 - 9:40 am

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – Buffalo’s Olmsted Parks Conservancy Executive Director Stephanie Crockatt has reservations about the New York State Department of Transportation’s plan to turn the Scajaquada Expressway into a boulevard.

“My initial reaction is I hope this isn’t the final design,” she said. “We would like to see some other improvements.”

The conservancy last month held a press conference highlighting their goals for the road which included removal of the medians and other dividers which take up parkland and stimulate speeding.

“That is a requirement to have a median by federal highway,” State DOT Commissioner Matt Driscoll said.

Driscoll explained that the Olmsted Parks Conservancy’s proposed plan wouldn’t work and indicated there were no plans to modify the project.

“We’re not willing, we have thoroughly reviewed (their plan) from a transportation end,” he added. “That will cause extreme congestion which would dump and force more traffic off into other adjoining neighborhoods.”

READ MORE: NYS Department of Transportation unveils plans for Scajaquada Corridor

The state provided informational boards which incidated how much traffic flow would be affected should the Scajaquada become a two-lane road or even removed. If the road became a two-lane road, Hertel Ave is estimated to see 4,000 increased vehicles per day while Amherst Street and Delevan Ave would receive 2,000 and 3,000 more vehicles per day, respectively. Removing the 198 in its entirety would more than double that amount of traffic.

Specific complaints about the boulevard project from the conservancy revolves around the proposed median but also the intersection which would be located by the junior soccer fields and the Historic Shelter House.

“It’s quite big,” she said. “And then, 100 feet later you’re down at the intersection at Delaware right at-grade at the avenue. That’s going to be a second intersection of about the same proportion. I don’t understand how that can be more congestive than if they were to take the road straight down to Delaware Avenue as we have suggested.”

Driscoll told WBEN that Tuesday’s presentation of the project was the final one, pending community approval.

“Our group has talked with several of the other cultural institutions in the neighborhood groups along the corridor and someone brought up the example of the Bass Pro Shop,” Crockett explained. “Everyone basically thought that was a done deal. Then, the community got behind it, and rallied, and we have Canalside today. So, maybe a done deal isn’t a done deal.”

Crockatt acknowledged that the boulevard project is “prettier” than the current Scajaquada Expressway but questioned if it’s more practical because of the size of the intersections and a roundabout at Grant Street rather than one for the Agassiz Circle.

“They’re trying, I think to do a good job,” she said. “I really believe they’re trying but this could be so much better. We could correct a historic mistake. Like I said, this is about the future and 50 years from now. I would want future generations to say they did a great job, and not like us today saying ‘wow, that’s a really bad mistake’.”

Next, the state will submit their draft environmental impact statement to the federal highway, who will then review it and return it to the state DOT. Driscoll said they hope to have that process wrapped up by December and begin the request for proposal process begin in late-spring. He then believes that if everything goes to plan, the construction will begin in the summer of 2018.

LISTEN: Stephanie Crockatt of the Olmsted Parks Conservancy reacts to 198 proposal

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