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Options for Scajaquada Corridor get positive review from the public

The Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council held a public informational meeting to discuss the project.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — For years there's been a lot of discussion about what to do with the Scajaquada Expressway and whether, in its current form, it really benefits the community.

Nailing down an exact plan for the roadway, however, has been almost as challenging as pronouncing 'Scajaquada' - at least if you're not from Western New York. But after all these years designs have finally been drawn up and the public got their first look at them Wednesday night.

The Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council and the engineering firm, Stantec, which is handling the project, held a public informational meeting on the SUNY Buffalo State Campus.

The four options include: 

  1. Leaving the expressway as is but making improvements around it.
  2. Creating a boulevard in its place.
  3. Partially replacing it through Delaware Park.
  4. Entirely removing it and creating a shared pedestrian space. 
Credit: Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council
Scajaquada Expressway Status Quo+ Draft

The meeting was standing room only and a lot of information was shared as well as plenty of opinions:

"I think it's amazing, I mean I'm 23 years old and if this thing has been in production for 20 years it's amazing that we're finally starting to see some progress," said Mike Pesarchick a Canisius College Graduate now studying Urban Planning at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

"I think, get rid of all of it or reduce it to a Boulevard, I think it links better to the original Humboldt Parkway as much as we can nowadays," Pesarchick added.

"I agree that the Scajaquada was convenient for a while and it certainly is convenient if I'm going from you know Main Street at Canisius to Elmwood, taking another street, it would do the exact same thing."

"I think the ideas proposed today were good, I think they were diverse in giving you options," said Jalonda Hill from the group 'Colored Girls Bike Too.'

"...but there needs to be more representation of the people that the highway is most impacting...it's important for me to be here because historically black and brown people are just not represented enough in how our communities are designed and developed," Hill added.

Credit: Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation
Scajaquada Corridor Partial Expressway Removal Draft

James Nowicki lives along Parkside Avenue and supports removing the expressway altogether.

"I like the thing where it's open all the way that's what Olmstead designed let's go with that," said Nowicki.

"A lot of people like the park and use it for so many things and have cars ripping through there or even trucks that's not what we wanted."

Credit: Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council
Scajaquada Corridor At-Grade Roadway Draft

Katherine Pessecow a Westside Resident who lives right near the 190 side of the expressway was initially on the fence about what option she favored.

"Even though there were several different plans out, at first my gut told me to go with the partial removal, I thought slow process would be better," Pessecow said. 

"I think the full removal is now the option that I'm leaning towards which surprises me, to be honest."

She added, "it's important not to be hesitant about change, it's important to be realistic but I think to make large changes I think that's what our city needs, and I'm glad it has this amount of attention."

Credit: Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council
Scajaquada Corridor Full Expressway Removal Draft

The four options can be mixed and matched so the final draft that's supposed to come out this summer will likely be different than what neighbors were presented Wednesday night. Public comments will be heavily considered.

When a final draft does come out, it will then go to New York State for approval. Following that, there will be another public comment period, so although Buffalo neighbors are seeing progress on the Scajaquada project the road ahead remains longer than it appears.