At some point in the not-too-distant future, the pedestrian-hostile Scajaquada corridor will be transformed from a frenetic expressway into a calmer and more aesthetically pleasing urban boulevard.
At least, that is the long-term goal of engineers working for the State Department of Transportation who, Thursday during an open house at Olmsted School 64, shared a variety of proposed options for calming traffic along the corridor, including narrower lanes for traffic, medians between opposing lanes and tree plantings.
Some of it was impressive to the public but, overall, the proposal just didn’t go far enough for the likes of Barbara Rowe, a local resident and business owner.
“It’s not going as far as I would like to see it go,” Rowe said of the plans unveiled Thursday.
“This is our one chance to get it right. We’re not going to see this opportunity again in our lifetime,” she added.
It was the kind of feedback that, not only was anticipated by the transportation department, but also welcomed, according to Gary Holmes, communications director for the agency.
“Our goal here is to listen more than we talk,” Holmes said.
The aim, he added, is to deliver on a commitment made by the state Department of Transportation.
“We want to get the public involved and make this an open transparent process by getting as many opinions as possible in terms of shaping the long-term vision for this corridor,” Holmes said.
“The one thing the (transportation) commissioner committed to was a reclassification of an expressway to an urban boulevard, two lanes in each direction that had a boulevard feel,” he added.
Jason Lang, who lives on Gates Circle, said he was only partially satisfied with what he saw Thursday.
“I’m satisfied that the plan has gotten a lot better in the past five years than it was as previously proposed. I’d like to see it go further in terms of more pedestrian crossings, especially around Buffalo State to open up Scajaquada Creek for more access on both sides of the creek.
“I’d like to see more traffic calming to ensure that more people drive 30 mph, because there are stretches that it would still seem that people would tend to drive 40 or more,” Lang said.
He posed copious questions to the engineers stationed at various diagrams and, as requested by the engineers, offered his own visions.
“I’d like to see them restore the circle in front of Delaware Park at Parkside. I think that’s a historic fabric of Buffalo and an Olmsted feature. It would be a beautiful front door to the park, as it was originally intended,” said Lang.
Rowe said that, while she liked seeing some of the new paths proposed, along with new lighting and a median, she insisted there is a more simple solution to slow traffic along the corridor.
“To really slow the traffic down to what it should be, we would prefer to see one lane in each direction, the opportunity for bike lanes. We would love for it to be a parkway rather than an expressway, which it still really is,” Rowe said.