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Latest plans unveiled for Scajaquada corridor

The Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council hopes to settle on a plan for the future of Route 198, which bisects an Olmsted park, in the fall.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Over the years plans for what to do about the Scajaquada have been long on ideas, but short on community consensus.

So, the state enlisted The Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council (GBNRTC) to drive things forward regarding the fate of the limited access highway.

"Tonight, after a year of technical analysis, extensive public outreach, and working with our consultants, we have developed four possible scenarios," Project Manager Hal Morse said prior to the meeting, which 260 people had signed up to attend hours before it was scheduled to begin Wednesday evening at Buffalo State College.

Morse confirmed that the options, full details of that were set to be unveiled at the meeting, included eliminating the Scajaquada entirely, or just the part of it that bisects Delaware Park, or keeping it but changing it into a boulevard, or leaving things pretty much as is.

"We want to have our recommendations probably late this summer depending on what we hear tonight," Morse said.

Morse noted that GBNRTC would have no opinion of what would be best prior to hearing from the public.

"No, we were selected because we're impartial. We're neutral and data-driven so that we're able to bring facts together, engage the public, and come up with that solution," he said.

As for costs, it's hard pinpoint until a plan is decided on although, when it comes to money, Morse believes there's reason for optimism.

"We had an excellent transportation bill passed recently, and it has funds specifically for reconnecting communities as well as other relevant projects that we could access to support this project," Morse said.

It is also not lost on Morse and the GBNRTC that the most powerful person in the U.S. Senate right now is Majority Leader Charles Schumer, who is from New York.

"It would appear the stars seem to be aligning to build such a project, he said.

As to when construction might start and when something truly transformational might come to fruition, however, there are only a galaxy of guesses.

Meanwhile, traffic studies indicate a decline in use of the Scajaquada, which was once considered an expressway, since its speed limit lowered to 30 mph in 2015.

That occurred just after a child was tragically killed, when a car left the Scajaquada and entered Delaware Park, where it struck a toddler who was with his family. 

Then Gov. Andrew Cuomo hastily ordered the State Department of Transportation to lower the speed limit, without bothering to wait for the results of the accident investigation, which concluded the driver of the vehicle had fallen asleep and that speed, in fact, had nothing to do with the tragedy.

However, the 30 mph limit remains to this day.

 

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