Scajaquada corridor project plans still in the works (WBEN)

Max Faery - WBEN

July 14, 2022

Originally published in WBEN on July 14, 2022.

Photo Credit: Max Faery/WBEN

The Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council and State Senator Sean Ryan held another public meeting to discuss a potential plan for the future of Route 198, Scajaquada Expressway.

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - The Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council (GBNRTC) and the "Region Central" project alongside New York State Senator Sean Ryan held another public meeting Wednesday regarding the potential plans for the future of the Scajaquada Expressway.

This meeting is identical to the one that they had in May at SUNY Buffalo State, where they welcomed community input as well as presented to the community four possible ideas for NY Route 193.

"We're (going to) have a special emphasis tonight on the four neighborhoods most directly impacted by the 198," Senator Sean Ryan told the media before the 5:30 meeting.

"On one corner, you have the Parkside neighborhood and the other corner, you have the Trinidad neighborhood, the other corner of Hamlin Park and then across the way, you have the Agassiz circle neighborhood. These neighborhoods are really broken up because you can't get from one to the other without crossing multiple lanes of traffic. So we wanted to give an opportunity just for those neighbors to have a presentation tonight, but also to give more time for an interactive back and forth so they can understand the options that are on the table and how if done right, we can help rejoin these communities that have been really cut in half by the different expressways," said the senator.

After years and years of ideas on what to do with the Scajaquada, there might be enough community consensus to initiate a plan of action.

"We could never get get together on a plan. 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," said Senator Ryan.

"We're really optimistic that we're going to come up with a really forward looking plan. In the last several years, what people were talking about a decade ago with downsizing highways, nobody was doing it, but in the last decade, it's being done all over the country. So things that sounded radical, even three or four years ago, are becoming commonplace."

These four ideas presented ranged from doing very few minor safety changes of the corridor to eliminating the corridor completely.

"We have meetings almost every day. Now in terms of the different parts, because it's not about picking one, two, three or four, it's parts of one two three or four, combined together to make the best possible scenario that is going to work for everybody, and yield the best results for our community," said Hal Morse, Executive Director of the GBNRTC and Project Manager.

These hearing periods are set to complete at the end of this year.

"We'll have comments on the four different scenarios that we're talking tonight, building based on public comment and on metrics that evaluate the performance of the different scenarios, blend those into a preferred scenario and then again, take them back out to the public and then work towards the public stakeholders and agencies in terms of a consensus that then we can move forward into the design process," said Morse.

"I can answer this positively, things are gonna get done," the senator says.
"We've been conducting meetings for almost two years now talking to stakeholders, talking to people in the neighborhood and while there is a great deal of fatigue, from failed efforts, there is also a good sense of optimism of now's the time to do it and there's public confidence that we're going to do it right."

The public has many conflicting ideas of what to do with the Expressway, but the $100 million dollars earmarked in federal funds for this project is going to be a very large factor in reconnecting the community.

"I'm looking for understanding. I love the concept. I love all of the dialogue that's been happening around reconnecting communities," said Erie County Legislator April Baskin. "I was born and raised on Buffalo's West Side and West Buffalo and now me and my family reside in East Buffalo in Hamlin Park. So this whole idea about connecting the neighborhood that I grew up in which I happen to have grown up to represent to the community in which I live in now, which I also represent, it's super, super exciting."