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DOT plan for Scajaquada Boulevard needs work, crowd says

WBFO's Mike Desmond

The State Department of Transportation wants to start awarding construction contracts late this year to turn the Scajaquada Expressway into Scajaquada Boulevard. However, a packed house Wednesday night suggested the plan still is not right, after 15 years of studies and a toddler's death.

After the death of 3-year-old Maksym Sugorovskiy in 2015, Gov. Andrew Cuomo swept in and told  bureaucrats to come up with plans, short term and long term. Short-term measures are visible every day, including a 30-mile-per-hour speed limit and a guard rail along Route 198 through Delaware Park.

The final plan for the $101 million project is at the draft environmental impact statement stage and it seemingly had little support at Frederick Law Olmsted School on Lincoln Parkway Wednesday. Objections ranged from having any road in the park to the plan not really being bike and walker friendly.

"You've got to do more than beautify the median, add some paths and bike paths, a few intersections, crossways and rotaries," said Peter Sawiski. "That's not enough because you're still using it as an expressway. If you really want to calm the traffic, turn it into a street through the park."

Credit WBFO's Mike Desmond

Olmsted Parks Conservancy's Stephanie Crockatt also wanted more consideration for Delaware Park.
"[The Conservancy] wants to see a park-appropriate road which allows us to re-connect the two halves of historic Delaware Park, the way Olmsted had originally designed," Crockatt said. "The Conservancy does not want planted medians. The plants belong in the park, not in the road [applause]."

Larry Williams has a different problem. He lives on Humboldt Parkway between the Scajaquada and the Kensington Expressway, a no man's land, to him. Williams said that neighborhood has been ignored in the planning and changes.

Credit WBFO's Mike Desmond

"They come from Parkside [Avenue} at 70 miles an hour. They try to cut that three minutes from the 190 down from Parkside past my house," Williams said. "In the morning, and that's usually when I get up, cluster of cars, a gridlock of cars get off at Sisters Hospital, people are sitting there. They're frustrated. They're throwing their latte cups on the ground."

Williams said his neighborhood should be looked at, instead of being used as a garbage-strewn race track.

State planners early on decided there would continue to be a road along the expressway route and then decided on traffic calming measures, from a series of traffic signals to slightly elevated intersections to slow people down for the boulevard. The ultimate plan is to have Washington, D.C. approval later this year so construction can start, with completion possibly in 2020.

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.
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