The results of last evening’s public meeting concerning the future of the Scajaquada Expressway turned out to be a bit different than I expected. In a surprise move, the NYS Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) actually did the right thing, and instead of thinking solely about the cars, they took into consideration the people.
Instead of recreating an expressway, the NYSDOT has opted to build a permanent 30mph boulevard, incorporating features for bikes and pedestrians. The NYSDOT also agreed to “theme it with the park”, according to Kerri Machemer, Founder of Parents of a Safe Delaware Park. “The DOT commissioner actually used the phrase ‘holistic approach’ when describing the plans,” Kerri said.
That’s incredible news considering that many proponents for a scaled back thoroughfare were skeptical about the NYSDOT’s ability to think along the lines of progressive urban planners, as opposed to the department that still pays homage to Robert Moses.
“Governor Andrew Cuomo led the way on the last spring when he ordered a speed limit reduction to improve safety for everyone who travels it,” said NYSDOT Commissioner Matthew J. Driscoll. “The State Department of Transportation is committed to further enhancing the safety of the corridor, working with the community to make the roadway fit into the historic park it traverses, and expediting the project so that construction can get underway.”
Moving forward, the public will be a part of the process. A series of public meetings will be held, and the comments generated from those meetings will be included in a Draft Environmental Impact Statement. In the meantime, the NYSDOT has already undertaken traffic calming measures that include:
- The roadway was striped to narrow the travel lanes from 12 feet to 11 feet.
- Crosshatching was installed on wide areas of the shoulders to provide additional visual cues to motorists
- “Stop” signs were installed to replace “merge” signs at ramps
- Temporary electronic flashing speed notification signs were installed.
- Ironwood guiderail was installed along sections of the corridor in Delaware Park to further separate vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
Additional interim measures include:
- Installing temporary gateway signs on each end of the corridor to provide a sense of entry.
- Restriping and narrowing the westbound travel lanes on the east end of the corridor to calm traffic further.
- Installing rumble strips in the eastbound travel lanes on the west end of the corridor to assess their effectiveness in calming traffic there.
- Installing additional electronic variable message signs and speed indicators to reinforce the 30 mile per hour speed limit. Moving them periodically will help ensure that motorists pay attention to them.
- Installing permanent “Reduced Speed Ahead” signs with flashing beacons to provide advanced warning of the lowered speed limit.
- Initiating discussions with the City of Buffalo to explore the possibility of a separate project to improve safety at the intersection of Main St., Kensington Ave. and Humboldt Parkway.
The NYSDOT also mentioned that they would be tapping Heather Sporn, Sr. Policy Advisor, NYSDOT, who headed up redesigned the West Side Highway. That alone says that there is a real interest to potentially do great things, instead of serving up the status quo.
The next public meeting will be sometime in May. It is anticipated that shovels will be in the ground by 2018.
Photo: Joe Cascio