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More meetings and more talk about what to do about the Scajaquada Expressway

One possibility is removal of the Scajaquada

For two decades, what to do about the Scajaquada Expressway has been the subject of debate and expenditures of a lot of money for maps and plans. It’s still there and still getting old. Speaking to a public meeting last night in Canisius College’s Science Hall, State Senator Sean Ryan says the public didn’t want those plans.

“The Department of Transportation under Governor Cuomo always just wanted to maintain the highway and maybe put some trees on it. But, the people kept rejecting those plans. I think the people in these communities when they saw that we turned Ohio Street into a parkway, why can't we turn a road that goes through a park into an actual parkway.”

Two of those who were at the meeting show the debate. Douglas Pressley wants a road, just not this road.

“My preference would be to put the parkway back in. The original Olmsted project is what I'd like to see, before they tore it out. Cause, it was one park from Delaware to MLK. It was all parkland and that's what I would prefer to see.”

Expressing health concerns, Sarah Sutcliff wants the road gone.

“I would like to see full expressway removal, for a bunch of reasons. I'd like park land returned to the park. The partial expressway removal leaves urban expressway stubs in the heart of some of the already most burdened and most damaged neighborhoods by the current expressway. So, they’re still going to be stuck with that expressway stub.”

There’s a companion and related issue, what to do with the connecting Kensington Expressway and there is a major study about that road. There’s $100-million for the Scajaquada. The Kensington might need five or ten times that. Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council Project Manager Hal Morse says planners can handle those and others.

“As the regional planning organization, of course, we have this, Kensington and numerous other major projects in the works right now that are either in study or design phase. So, we need to take those all into account. We have that capability to look at the maturity of those projects, the time frame and how they might impact each other.”

Morse says the studies have been going on for so long, the data had to be done over again. The final plan is to be ready later this year.

“That's why we went out and collected new data last year. So, we have very contemporary and there's newer ways of collecting data, too. So, using remote anonymous cell phone data, we know where everybody came from, went, how they got there. So, did they walk, drove, how long they did each one. So, that's really helped us feed our traffic models and understand how people are getting around and the best way to make sure that everybody can make it to their destination in a timely fashion.”

Erie County Legislature Chair April Baskin was there, remembering the attraction of Delaware Park to a young girl and looking forward to dealing with both the Kensington and the Scajaquada.

“So, I grew up on the Lower West Side, kind of in the Porter Street area and we'd go down to Front Park and you knew that's where you got on the 190 and soon after you get on this winding highway that would lead you to Delaware Park.”

Baskin knows the social history of roads built to get traffic to and from the suburbs.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.