From 'expressway' to 'parkway', preferred option reached on 198 re-imagining (WBEN)

Tom Puckett - WBEN

January 27, 2023

Originally published in WBEN on January 27, 2023.

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - What's the road ahead for the Scajaquada Expressway(Route 198)?

The preferred option has been reached after community input for the future of the Scajaquada. The plan calls for the expressway to be replaced by a parkway and intersections to replace ramps.

New York State Senator Sean Ryan says it's taken decades, but the preferred option is in place, and it's in three segments. "It's the area from Delevan to Main Street, Canisius and Parkside in the Hamlin Park neighborhood, and then through the park, in the museums all the way to being disconnected from the 190, so it'll essentially be a parkway through through those areas," explains Ryan. He adds it will be toned down, without any remnants of a highway with this preferred option in place.

Ryan says the area will be cleaned up as a result.

"The people who once lived on Humboldt Parkway heading east from Parkside will have a parkway restored, and the whole Black Rock-Riverside neighborhood will not have an elevated highway running through their neighborhood. So it's a real generational change with this plan going to the engineers," says Ryan, who notes DOT engineers will design the intersections and roadway, which is the next step.

Hal Morse of the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council says the final result came from a hybrid of four previous proposals. Morse says he's also looking at what else could be improved to make the whole sub-region central and perform better in terms of transportation access, and easier to get around. "So not only would you possibly improve some other streets in the area and roads, but also then how would you be able to walk and where it's now cut off or challenging to to get around or other types of transit or bicycle access," notes Morse.

Jill Jedlicka of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper says everything in the redesign effort is what she hoped it would be. "It was a truly a community engaged process overseen by the GBNRTC, and that community input, including stakeholders and residents and cultural institutions, and nonprofits like my organization, all had value to add to that process and contributed to that vision," says Jedlicka. She believes this will be a win for the region.

Jedlicka says GBNRTC "flipped the script" on what transportation planning used to be to what it is now in the 21st century. "A lot of value was put into quality of life for residents for neighborhoods, for local economic activity. And from Waterkeepers perspective, there was really a primary driver in consideration given to the future and the health of Scajaquada Creek," says Jedlicka. She says the preferred scenario will give an opportunity to rehabilitate a creek she says has been so abused and burden for generations.

Morse says the next step is moving forward with some detailed traffic analysis, followed by how the environmental process could play out, then enter that eventually into a design process.