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The Long (and dangerous) Winding Road… that leads you to your door.

West bound on the 198 – V1 jumped curb, it [hit] light poles 181 and [then] 183 damaging them. V1 hit tree coming to rest. Driver taken to ECMC. Monday, August 20, 2012

On a drive through the 198, I saw a gray hair woman scurrying across the south bound Delaware ramp. She was putting out new plastic flowers, the old ones having disappeared. On other side of the bridge another set of flowers could be seen at the on ramp. Over the last five or six years, flowers have been put out for people, including the 2015 accident in the park meadow. However, focusing on one important accident is a case study, looking at all the accidents is an analysis of efficiencies and effectiveness. If the 198 produces more than the average of accidents, it is neither efficient nor effective at getting people from one location to another.

V1 merged into right lane from on ramp to 198 WB from Grant St. cutting off V2. V2 slammed on brakes and spun out into the median. V2 bounced off the median and the rear of V2 came into contact with the drivers side of V1. V1 left the scene. V3 traveling down 198 west in the left lane struck the left rear of V2. Tuesday, August 13, 2013

During the three year study – 2011 to 2014 – the NYDOT found that the 198 was outperforming most other expressways in the state. It was producing more accidents than its counterparts, roughly 558 of them over the three year study. The Mainline Segment – Grant to Parkside – has some interesting accident rates. For instance, the Grant Lincoln Parkway to Delaware Avenue segment has a 1.64 acc/mvm (accidents per motor vehicle mile) vs. 1.06 acc/mvm Statewide. The Delaware Ave ramps have a 4.05 acc/mvm rate, 4 times the state average. Driving along the 198 from Parkside to Delaware has a 1.95 acc/mvm, roughly twice the state average. The winding 198 must have some tricks, because from Elmwood Ave to the Iroquois Drive exit it scored a 2.96 acc/mvm, or 3 times the state average. The average for all of the state is 1.06 the upper limit is 1.08. This is compared to the 198’s average of 1.96, almost twice as accident prone.

Of the 558 accidents, 236 of them (42%) involved injuries. Alternatively, 322 of them (58%) produced property damage that including having to replace light poles, fixing guard rails, knocking down trees in the park or street, or simply to their own and other’s cars. A lamp standard can cost $5,000 for a cheap one, not including the labor and machines to put it in. While monetizing accidents is cruel, it is worth noting what our tax dollars are paying for. Because it only gets worse when we look at the cost of an injury. 

Driver traveling west on 198, Driver stated she drove into water puddle in roadway, slide off roadway, struck metal pole. Then vehicle struck a tree off roadway and metal fence. Driver sustained injury to head and right hand. Cut from vehicle by Buffalo Fire. Monday, August 26th, 2013

I would image that the lost of the car was marginal compare to the injuries the above driver sustained. More than the negligible $1000 marker used in the NYDOT study. The lost time at work, medical costs and the shear pain makes one think twice about using the 198. Icy conditions do have an influencing factor, however, icy conditions on other expressways such as the I-190 and the I-90 don’t seem to have as much effect. Simply, driving along the 198 including the wavy sections accounts for 36% of all accident locations. It appears that the snake like wave of the 198 as compared to most expressways is negatively affecting its driving conditions in rain, sleet, snow, and essentially, 3 of the 4 driving seasons here in Buffalo.

Driver traveling east on 198 [ Delaware Ave to Parkside] states he was cut off by truck at the intersection of Parkside. Attempting to avoid an accident, driver went off roadway and struck a large tree. Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Speeding, distracted driving, and heavy traffic are the main reasons for accidents nation wide. If we add in icy conditions, being exhausted and a huge number of college students (Grant St ramp) and we have some very poor driving conditions on such as sort little highway.

V2 was stopped in heavy traffic due to accident up ahead. V1 stated he was tired and didnt realize V2 was stopped. Saturday, October 13th, 2012

V1 drifted off the roadway and struck the light pole # 175. Friday, July 18, 2014

It is also a bit strange to have intersections, signals and stop signs on a road called an expressway, when we do…isn’t it really performing like a road? The Parkside intersection – not included in the Mainline/Wavy accidents mentioned previously – accounts for another 28% of accidents. In only 3.592 miles the 198 produced 558 accidents over three years. This is roughly 186 accidents a year, 51.78 accidents per mile, or 1 every 7.05 days.

V1 was WB on 198 at Parkside making left on red arrow when V2 was EB on 198 at Parkside going straight with a yellow light. V1 and V2 collided. V1 spun out, V2 overturned. Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Interestingly, the NYDOT wanted to see what sort of changes happened after the speed limit was dropped. Additionally, what sort of affect the stop signs on ramps had. So, they “pulled” a sampling. They counted the number of accidents from June 1st to October 31st 2015. Interestingly, 24 light poles (about $5000 each) were hit with 50 mph, compared to zero at 30 mph. Also noted are the 9 times cars landed in the median, again zero for 30 mph. There were 63 sideswipes with 50 mph, zero for 30 mph. While there was one car that went off the road at 30mph, there were 86 off road accidents with 50 mph. Cars spinning out, flipping over, and drivers needing to be cut out of their cars…zero. One did get hung up on a guard rail after the speed change, but that person also fled and abandoned the car. The accident rate dropped from 15.5 per month to 4.6, one third of the previous rate.

V1 went off road striking speed limit sign. Monday, April 15, 2013

While the 30mph limit appears to have had an impact, dropping down to 4.6 accidents a month is considerable, I am thinking that that policeman standing by the road with the velocimeter held out for all to see had an impact.

“In conjunction with the posted speed limit reduction from 50mph to 30mph, a heavy police presence was implement to help enforce the new condition. Drivers were aware of the strict enforcement during this time and it may have led to fewer accidents over those five months.” NYS Route 198 Corridor Draft Design Report, Volume 1

V1 traveling east left roadway and struck curb and metal light pole that was on side of the road. Light pole was knocked down from previous accident. Sunday, April 21, 2013

In the end, it may be best to just ditch not just a poorly designed expressway, but one that isn’t even straight. I don’t know of any other expressways that has “wavy sections”, nor curves and swerves the way this one does. In essence, maybe there is another more efficient and effective right of way that could be utilized… one that doesn’t send insurance premium through the roof. And since the NYDOT has to eminent domain land in the park anyway, maybe we should be looking due north for some eminent domain-able land. Or simply explain to the Railroad…its time to share their straightaway so cars can safely get cross town quickly, efficiently and effectively.

(Blue is tunnel, Yellow and Pink above ground)

Extra Reading:

“While traveling west on Rt 198, driver of V1 stated that she lost control of the vehicle causing it to flip and land in the trees on the side of the road.” Sunday, January 15, 2012

“V1 lost control and hit a pole at the 198 E, Main St exit” Wednesday, January 29, 2014

“V1 spun out while avoiding another vehicle.” Thursday, January 30, 2014

“Vehicle slipped on ice, went off the road, hit a light post, and flipped over landing on driver’s side window.” Monday, February 10, 2014

“Hit and Run V1 (Tractor trailer) sideswiped V2 as V2 was entering 198 east.” Friday, April 04, 2014

“Driver of V1, which was traveling east on 198 approaching the 33 EB ramp, collided into the rear of V2 which was stopped in traffic on 198 ramp. The impact caused V2 to collide with V3.” Monday April 14, 2014

“V2 slowed down in traffic for an ambulance with its lights and sirens activated, and was struck by V1.” Wednesday 14, 2014

“V1 stuck median/curb when hydroplane in puddle of water on Rt 198 near Delaware.” Monday, July 09, 2014

“V2 E on 198 bumped from behind by V1. V1 then passed V2 sideswiping V2. V2 spun out coming to a stop.” Tuesday April 22, 2014

“V2 stopped at stop sign was struck from behind by V1. Driver of V1 backed up and struck diver of V2 who exited his vehicle. Driver of V1 left the scene.” Sunday, February 05, 2014

Written by Tara Mancini

Tara Mancini

Tara Mancini's interest span from Microbiology and Chemistry, Research and Development, Manufacturing, Quality Assurance, and Process Improvement Analysis to New York History, Early Civilizations and Child Development and Education.

Part of the Quality Assurance jobs was food taster, both sweet and savory. When I travel I make a point of eating everything.

Recent projects include founding the Friends of Schenck Hose in Buffalo, NY - an 1823 pioneer and farm estate - that seeks to restore and put into adaptive reuse the historic buildings to recently being awarded a patent for a new chemical production system.

Specialties: Operations, Plant Start up, R & D, Pilot plant testing, operations, quality, Sales and Marketing, Production line or plant start up, streamline production, material waste management, recycling, process improvement, Biodiesel, Renewable Energy, Project Development.

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  • TakeItElsewhere

    Getting my popcorn ready for this one…

  • Chazcar2

    I agree that new roadways need to be developed for the city of buffalo. I feel the roadways are there but some real re-examining of the roads line broadway, genesse, walden, william st needs to be done. With the potential to clean up some intersections and timing of the lights you could encourage traffic to use those routes.

    I don’t believe that putting tunnels in buffalo will be cost effective. Especially not underneath rail line. Encouraging that railway to expand for a second metro line along the belt line would be nice for positioning the city for mass transit expansion. That area of the city between main st and the belt line is the next area for revitalization.

  • Marc Rebmann

    There is not enough room without massive amounts of emminent domain for a highway and the existing railroad in most of that corridor. There isn’t even enough room for a highway between 33 and Delaware.

  • elmwoody

    Buffalo, a city with pretty low congestion, needs more highways, including a huge big-dig tunnel for no reason? Ok. I can draw lines on a map too, can I get a story?

    • Buffalover

      Yeah! i think we should make a highway down the elmwood village because the current 190 is too close to the water. Give me a map and some accident numbers haha

    • GUEST

      That would be a massive tunnel. Is there ever a cost savings having the road underground, not exposed to the elements – less plowing, salting, repairs, etc.?

  • robert biniszkiewicz

    The light posts sit about 12″ from the curb. Every year, prior to the 30 mph limit, they’d be knocked down like bowling pins at multiple locations on the Scajaquada. I have no doubts that the slower limit is minimizing accidents.

    Coveting the railroad for highway is wasting your time. it’s too narrow, there is no room for interchanges and, of course, the kicker: the railroad is not giving up its tracks. We have a far better shot at forcing them to share the tracks with commuter trains, but even that is an uphill legal battle. Putting commuter trains on the ring railroad would be outstanding (if difficult). Putting a highway there is a pipe dream.

    This east – west crosstown route (I-198) should be as green a parkway as possible. It should be as park-friendly and park-sensitive as possible. I agree with the low speed limit (between Grant and Parkside, anyway). But the road should not be eliminated entirely. That would create an enduring traffic nightmare.

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    ‘neither efficient nor effective’ strikes me as both redundant and repetitive

    • Matt Marcinkiewicz

      …in describing the function(ing) of a thoroughfare, anyway

      • G Orty

        Not quite, since you brought it up. Efficiency + effectiveness = efficacy. Redundant and repetitive aren’t synonyms either, where redundancy implies unnecessary overlap of similar meanings or strategies, but repetition is merely multiple occurrences of the same instance. In this case, an effective thoroughfare solves a start-to-destination need, but an efficient one does so with better-than-average travel times and congestion.

        • Matt Marcinkiewicz

          Colloquial usage of ‘effective’ = efficient; no one would use ‘effective’ in the bare minimum sense in the course of conversation about a road. According to this definition of effective, any road that is maintained to any degree will be rendered effective. Thus, it is a word that is devoid of actual meaning (in the context of this discussion). One could point to any existent road and declare it ‘effective’ simply by virtue of its existence.

        • Matt Marcinkiewicz

          but that’s some decent semantic analysis nonetheless, especially the redundant versus repetitive distinction. This guy agrees with you:

        • Buffalover

          So this road is effective and arguably efficient.

    • Captain Picard

      Lol. I see what you did there.

  • Disqusminiscus

    It’s a narrow strip of land that runs behind peoples houses and business and established neighborhoods. Look I get it, I don’t like the 198 either, but why are so many of the idea regarding what to do with it on this site so far out there?

  • Doug Wallis

    Why Cities Are Demolishing Freeways By Tiffany Owens
    Nobody will convince me that Buffalo needs to remain a car centric culture. Buffalo had 2x the population spread over 1/3 the area it is today (approximately) and the city survived. There is no reason why the Kensington cannot be decked over and the Scajaquada cannot be eliminated putting traffic on Ferry and Delevan. All across the country outdated freeways are being dismantled or buried. There are very few cities that would say they need an inner city cross town express like the Scajaquada and ruin our pre-eminent park (Delaware Park, Mirror Lake, Hoyt Lake and Scajaquada Creek).to do it.

    • grovercleveland

      1.) if you want to go back to a culture where the wife stayed home (and was never taught to drive) and the family had one car they drove to church on Sundays, good for you.

      2.) This road does not ruin the park.

  • Doug Wallis

    It might take alittle while longer to get cross town without the Scajaquada but I think Buffalo would more than make up for it in quality of life (residential neighborhoods, college campus, Richardson, Forest Lawn, etc)

  • Matthew Moje

    Finally an article about the 198 that is backed with facts

    • Johnny Pizza

      What I will concede is the case was made for a 30 mph road in the park for safety, but the colored roadmap leads me to believe the writer lacks common sense.

  • Buffalover

    I think this writer is sharing the motivation behind driverless cars. People not adjusting to proper speeds to weather conditions is the fault of the driver, not the road.

    Obviously, the majority of people not from the neighborhood feel it necessary to complain about a park they don’t live next to. If you’ve ever been to or lived in the neighborhood you’d know how ridiculous it would be to put a highway in the backyards of hundred of people in Parkside. I have not seen one common sense or data based argument to removing the expressway completely, and this argument supports the fact that the 30pmh is working. Now lets just limit it from Parkside to Grant.

    I get it, you don’t think cities should adapt to modern traffic patterns. You think we’re still in the 30’s and cars don’t need to travel over 30mph ever. But that’s not realistic or efficient. The speed limit has been changed where it is winding because people don’t know how to drive safe and it has proven effective, why can’t we leave it at that?

  • Johnny Pizza

    So let me get this straight.
    We need to leave the roadway through the park (pink) AND reroute the expressway past several thousand more residences in the North Buffalo area?
    Brilliant, more roadways that cut through more neighborhoods.