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A Park Themed Highway

The New York Department of Transportation (NYDOT) is busy designing a new highway through Buffalo’s Delaware Park.  It will replace the current Scajaquada Expressway. They are calling the new highway an “urban boulevard” so it sounds better, but it will still be a road designed for high volume traffic that can move at a relatively fast 35 miles per hour (40 to 50 MPH in practice). You don’t have to worry though.  The civil engineers planning the new highway have a fix.  They say it will be “park themed”.  This is great, right; A park themed highway in a park!

For a hint of what “park themed” might mean in the minds of a NYDOT traffic engineer, take a look at the new roadway barriers installed over the last year.  They have rustic “park themed” wood faces bolted to galvanized structural steel rails and posts.  Note how the engineers were careful to face the park themed rustic wood faces toward the road and not toward the actual park.  People in the park get to see the bare galvanized steel and sharp-edged connector bolts.   This pretty much says that they are not designing for the park users. They are designing for the drivers. The drivers get speed and these new “park themed” crash rails.  The park users get the highway and a small measure of protection from the drivers.

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It is quite ridiculous that park users should need crash rails to be safe in the first place. Making crash barriers park themed  does not make it any better.

This kind of design is to be expected from civil engineers who are trained to design for efficient movement of traffic and water. All of their manuals codes and standards are geared almost exclusively toward this end.  Safety is given some thought, of course but, not at the expense of speed.  Slower moving traffic is the most effective means of making roads safer. But, slow speed road design is rarely considered as an option today.  A slow traffic road concept through the park was rejected by NYDOT for the Scajaquada because they feared it would slow traffic too much.

There should be no highway through Delaware Park.  The idea of keeping it is absurd.  Stand up for your city and say no to high-capacity high-speed traffic through the park.  Instead of park themed why not an actual park from the Niagara River to the Kensington interchange? repark

 

 

 

 

 

Written by David Steele

David Steele

Architect ( a real one, not just the armchair type), author of "Buffalo, Architecture in the American Forgotten Land" ( www.blurb.com ), lover of great spaces, hater of sprawl and waste,
advocate for a better way of doing things.

View All Articles by David Steele
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