The Scajaquada Expressway has made it onto a rather unsettling list. The expressway has been named one of America’s Ten Worst Highways in 2017. The nomination was given by the nonprofit Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), due to the roadway’s disruptive nature, pollution, traffic, poor walkability (and biking), and overall healthy living concerns. It’s amazing that The Scajaquada Expressway can make a national list of this nature, yet the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is still in denial that there is a serious issue at hand.
Thankfully, added pressure is now being applied to the NYSDOT, in the form of heavy hitting politicians such as Congressman Brian Higgins stepping up and applying pressure. At the same time, it’s incredible that the community must do this time and time again. Where is the oversight to begin with? Why must we always spin our wheels every time that the NYSDOT is handed a significant project. It’s a waste of time and money. Why are we stuck with the designers with no vision? Is it just lack of modern day schooling, complete ignorance, hardheadedness, poor directive from higher ups, why fix what aint broke attitude, or simply the empowerment that comes with the job – to not listen to others?
In 2016, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the Every Place Counts Design Challenge, an initiative designed to help cities reconnect neighborhoods and rebuild connectivity around urban transportation infrastructure.
“Across the U.S., cities are grappling with what to do with crumbling and aging highway infrastructure: Do we rebuild or remove?” said Lynn Richards, president and CEO of CNU. “Do we sink another 50 years of our resources into concrete and asphalt? Or do we invest in a beautiful, accessible, people-friendly alternative—and seize this opportunity to improve air and water quality, reconnect people to opportunity, reverse urban blight, and save millions in taxpayer dollars?”
CNU points out that Buffalo should be looking at other cities that have managed to tear down their freeways – San Francisco, Chattanooga, and Madrid for example – thus creating thriving urban areas that are dedicated to people, not cars (see model cities).
A panel of national transportation experts identified the following highways that should be torn down in order to improve the quality of life for the people that live in the respective cities:
- Scajaquada Expressway in Buffalo, NY
- I-345 in Dallas, TX
- I-70 in Denver, CO
- I-375 in Detroit, MI
- I-980 in Oakland, CA
- Route 710 in Pasadena, CA
- Inner Loop in Rochester, NY
- I-280 Spur in San Francisco, CA
- I-81 in Syracuse, NY
- Route 29, Trenton, NJ
“Replacing urban expressways with surface boulevards improves traffic distribution while saving tax dollars and adding value to local tax bases,” said John Norquist, the former four-term mayor of Milwaukee, a city that successfully replaced an elevated downtown freeway. “Research has shown that removing in-city freeways makes residents healthier, strengthens local economies, opens up land for parks, creates opportunities for development, and can even ease local traffic problems.”
Learn more and read the full report at cnu.org/highways.
Photo: Mike Puma