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Ryan calls on Cuomo to reduce speed limit on Scajaquada Expressway

The debate to cut the speed limit on the Scajaquada Expressway to 30 mph from 50 mph is over, Assemblyman Sean Ryan says.

In the wake of Saturday’s tragedy, when a car veered off the westbound Route 198, the Scajaquada Expressway, and onto the Ring Road of Delaware Park, striking two children – fatally injuring one – and their mother, the Democratic legislator said that on Monday he will urge Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to act unilaterally on the issue – if necessary.

“I put a call into the Governor’s Office already today. I plan on meeting on Monday with ... the secretary of transportation,” Ryan said during a news conference Saturday outside his Windsor Avenue home.

“We even asked the governor to take executive action – immediate steps – prior to instituting a plan,” Ryan added.

State Department of Transportation officials for years have been working on a plan to improve traffic on the expressway and surrounding corridor. One plan called for reducing the current 50 mph speed limit to 40 mph and keeping the roadway bisecting the park at two lanes in each direction. However, many critics have said that plan does not go far enough and suggested the speed be lowered to 30 mph.

“The community has been crystal clear with the Department of Transportation. They want that to become a parkway – 30 mph. No more tragedies. That’s what we as Buffalonians deserve. We’ve had public forums on this. We’ve had community meetings on this. We have signed petitions on this. We have spoken with one unified voice to the Department of Transportation. Now is the time. We want the Department of Transportation to issue a plan to downgrade the Scajaquada from a highway to a parkway. No more time for excuses. This conversation has been going on too long. We don’t want another tragedy,” Ryan said.

While the current speed limit on the Scajaquada is 50 mph, DOT engineers have said the roadway was designed to accommodate 60 mph, which Ryan suggested is preposterous, considering its proximity to Delaware Park.

“A high-speed, high-volume expressway has no place in our parks,” Ryan said. “No sane engineer would design that today.”

“We’ve had this conversation for years where the engineers want to tell you, ‘Well, it’s going to take three more minutes if you make it 30 mph,’ ” he said. “Well, we’ve seen today that we’re willing to sacrifice three minutes. Nobody should go to a park with a fear that they’re going to get hit by a car.”

email: hmcneil@buffnews.com