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Letter: City planners should fix pedestrian mall mistake

City planners are finally beginning to realize the benefit of providing a pedestrian friendly connection between the Medical Campus and Canalside. New studies show that Ellicott Street will be a perfect fit and several prodigious plans are in the works.

Maybe they’ve forgotten, but a few years ago we had a perfectly situated pedestrian friendly avenue already in place – and it provided free Metro rail service all along its way. Called the pedestrian mall it wasn’t perfect and it needed upgrades, but grouping it with failed malls in other cities was extremely shortsighted.

Very few bothered to realize that Buffalo’s downtown layout actually provided the perfect venue for such a prescient idea. Then, just as downtown was being rediscovered, the destruction of our pedestrian mall began and the long-vilified experiment was history.

Now, years later, we still suffer the effects. The Theater District Metro Rail stop was lost and drivers who dare enter that zone face a confusing mishmash of bollards, traffic signs, narrow lane markers and parking regulations that challenge even the most brave. Pedestrians don’t have it much easier as sidewalk parking for delivery trucks, construction vehicles and Buffalo Place workers is commonplace.

Providing an inviting atmosphere to encourage walking is an oft repeated goal of city planners, yet they support returning traffic to lower Main, even though it will be a bane to Canalside visitors on foot and employees of Seneca One tower.

It strikes me that all the grandiose plans for Ellicott Street that now so excite our “experts” could have been implemented on Main Street years ago, cheaper and with a far better outcome. I wonder where all these urban planning gurus were when the pedestrian mall was eradicated and I wonder what else they have in store to rectify that mistake.

Mike Zobel

Eggertsville

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