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New proposal for 198 would remove ramps, add bike paths and sidewalks

A local transportation council is recommending new changes for the Scajaquada Expressway including removing the ramps at Niagara Street, one traffic lane each way.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council announced their new proposed plans the Scajaquada Corridor to the public Tuesday night. The preferred design scenario for the 198 would turn it into a two-lane parkway by removing the on and off ramps. Intersections would replace those ramps at key thoroughfares, such as Delaware Ave. 

The plan includes new off ramps for the southbound I-190 and new exit ramps for the 33. The interchange ramps at Niagara Street would be removed.

"We looked at how the Scajaquada is not really functioning like it was originally constructed for, and it's in need of some upgrades or some kind of treatment," sad Hal Morse, the project manager for the GBNRTC. 

The proposal would add bike paths, sidewalks, tree-lined medians, additional crosswalks and on-street parking.

"There still are connections to the 33 and the 190," Morse said. "But it says is not an expressway doesn't have the elevated structures, but it is still connected."

The new proposal is a hybrid of the original four scenarios outline by the transportation council. The proposal is posted online and outlines public benefits including better access to Delaware Park, safer routes for people traveling by car, on foot or by bike.

The transportation council had been working on the proposal for the last 18 months. 

This is, however, strictly a proposal. The plan has not been approved by the state. 

2 On Your Side reached out to Governor Hochul's office, who deferred us to the NYSDOT. The DOT did not respond to our inquiry. 

Today, the Scajaquada Corridor Coalition (SCC) said in a statement that they are "unified in their support and excitement around the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council’s proposed plans." 

The SCC is a coalition of community stakeholders. 

“GObike stands in strong support of the preferred mobility scenario presented by GBNRTC. Cities across the country are reclaiming their green spaces, protecting their natural resources, and reconnecting the neighborhoods that urban highways have damaged. We are thrilled for the future of the adjacent colleges and institutions, businesses and households that may see a healthy, thriving Scajaquada Creek, a reconnected street grid, and our world-class Delaware Park made whole once again"  Justin Booth, Executive Director of GObike Buffalo said in the statement from the SCC. 

 “Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper has been actively engaged with the SCC in the 198 redesign process for many years, and we are extremely supportive of and inspired by the preferred scenario produced by GBNRTC. If this concept can become a reality, it will be a win for everyone. The future of Scajaquada Creek, including any potential for its recovery and rehabilitation, is directly linked to the decisions and actions that lay ahead as part of the design and environmental review process” Jill Jedlicka, Executive Director of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper stated.

"Our historic Olmsted park system and the surrounding communities have suffered since these expressway divides occurred, and we are grateful we can now begin to focus on restoration,” state Stephanie Crockatt, Executive Director of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy. 

The full report and the estimated costs still needs to be released. The council will also need an environmental review process set up and conduct a detailed traffic analysis.

In 2022, NYS Senator Sean Ryan said he had secured $100M for a redevelopment of the Scajaquada. 

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