Elected officials and community activists gathered Saturday to deliver a message to those redesigning the Scajaquada Expressway: Come up with something better than the plan unveiled last week.
Rep. Brian Higgins and Assemblyman Sean M. Ryan joined Olmsted Parks advocates and others at Marcy Casino in Delaware Park to ask state and federal officials for more thought and planning in transforming a 2.2 mile stretch of the expressway into an urban boulevard. The design unveiled Wednesday should be only a start, they said, urging planners to seize the opportunity now to re-embrace the vision of city planner Frederick Law Olmsted and offer a roadway friendly to pedestrians, cyclists and park users.
“Unlike the folks in the ‘50s and ‘60s, we have a voice,” Higgins told reporters, referring to planning mistakes of decades ago. “I’m here to get the highest and best use of the Scajaquada Corridor project, so that future generations get to enjoy what previous generations were denied.”
Ryan, asked planners to “go back to the drawing board,” coordinate their efforts, and submit an improved plan that better connects streets and neighborhoods. He said bureaucracies have spent most of their time telling Buffalo it can’t have what it wants.
“The community has been left shrugging its shoulders with a great sense of frustration,” he said. “We want either a meeting of the minds or a meeting in person. In our new Buffalo, we don’t accept Bs or B-pluses, we want A-plus on everything we do.”
Changes unveiled by the state Department of Transportation in a $101 million plan include:
• An increase from three conventional traffic signals to seven to reinforce the new 30 mile per hour speed limit.
• Pedestrian crossings with contrasting colored surface and high visibility markings to enhance safety.
• Medians of 10 feet wide or greater at all pedestrian crossings for safety.
• Removal of the eastbound exit ramp to Lincoln Parkway and Iroquois Drive.
• Reconfiguration of the Elmwood Avenue and Nottingham Terrace connector to better manage traffic.
But planners at the meeting also said the state needs to further protect pedestrians, lessen the road’s impact on Delaware Park and provide better bicycle access.
Several others appeared at Saturday’s press conference to emphasize the requests, including Stephanie Crockatt, executive director of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy; Michael DeLuca, chairman of the Parkside Community Association Traffic Committee, and Justin Booth, executive director of GObike Buffalo and a member of the Scajaquada Corridor Coalition.