Author: Malachai Miller
The Scajaquada is a 2-3 mile section of expressway, NYS route 198. The road connects the Niagara section of the 90 thruway to Rt 33 (Kensington) downtown or east to Cheektowaga. In the spring 2015 there was a tragedy where a narcoleptic driver exited the 198 injured a family and killed and young boy. Special interest groups have since capitalized on the incident to push agendas on commuters and tens of thousands of motorists who use the route every day. Changes include reducing speed limit from 50mph to 30, narrowing the road, removing merge entrance lanes, and installing stop signs in place of yield signs. The groups, positions, and debates are summarized below:
Parkside Community Association: this is a small neighborhood that borders Delaware Park. A recent census had it at 2500 residents. The group argues that cars drive off the 198 and continue to speed into their neighborhood. They present mainly assumptions. Not all drivers who use the 198 enter Parkside. Most exits from the 198 are controlled with lights or stop signs to hinder continued speed. The Parkside portion of the 198 is small compared to cemeteries, industry, creeks, and colleges for whom a lower speed is unnecessary.
Another claim of the PCA is that the 198 detracts from their quality of life. A search of home values bordering the 198 finds most over $250,000. Deeper into the Parkside neighborhood finds homes approaching half a million dollars or greater. The average home price in the city of Buffalo is $90,000. Most can’t afford a house in Parkside. Why do people who can buy such expensive houses need Buffalo commuters to sacrifice in order to improve their “quality of life”. Isn’t the quality of their life already great?
The Scajaquada expressway was installed in the 1960’s. How many Parkside residents bought their homes before 1966? How may were even alive before 1960 or could say quality of life was better before the 198 was built? They knowingly bought homes with the expressway present. Now they expect the driving public to suffer for selfish speculation. If the 198 was so dangerous and awful then why buy homes there?
Olmsted Park Conservancy: this group is concerned with preserving the Olmsted park system. Their website claims 3000 members. The irony here is that the NYS DOT approached OPC to install guard rails to protect the park prior to the boy being killed. The OPC rejected them for aesthetic reasons. This group uses turn of the century pictures, promoting nostalgia for a bygone era. Unfortunately we don’t drive tin lizzys anymore. Cars are faster, more people own them, and the population of Buffalo is triple of that when the park was designed in the 1800’s. Should we return our houses to coal heating to preserve history?
GoBike: this is a group of bicyclists who want to operate on the 198. They have Slow Roll events that top out at 1100 participants. Many are not residents of the city. They could only raise $3,000 of the $14,000 required for a permit to ride on the 198 for one of their events. Clearly they do not have enough members or financial weight. The town of Kenmore rejected bike lanes because surveys showed 1% or less of the population bicycles. Why is Buffalo manipulated by a similarly small group? GoBike wants special lanes and slow cars. The lanes and slower speeds already exist on streets bordering the park and 198. Bicyclists will claim cars have to share the road yet they do not share licensing fees, liability insurance, or registration fees required to operate on the roads. When the first bicyclist gets injured on the 198 will they reverse the changes as swiftly?
There is ALREADY an exclusive bicycle path that exactly mirrors the Scajaquada. See pictures below. First is “mapmyrun” using bicycle option from Niagara Street to Medaille College. Please consider that the bike path has NO CARS. No several thousand pound crushing machines to maim and kill bicycle riders. Second is the car route for the same route. Note that it is 2.9 miles as opposed to the 3.1 mile bike map. So the bike path is not good enough for the cyclists? They need to ride in danger, proximate to cars, to save 2 tenths of a mile? 2 blocks?!