Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper submitted the following comments to the New York State Department of Transportation on February 2, 2017 in response to the recently available Draft Environmental Impact Statement and soliciting of public comments.
Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper supports the forward-thinking concept of converting highways into
human-scaled streets. Therefore, we support the wholesale removal of the Scajaquada Expressway
(NYS Route 198). NYSDOT’s most recent, unveiled modifications of the Route 198 project to a
“Boulevard” design for the “downgraded” roadway might be a step in the right direction, but the
modifications are not enough, and still disappointing in scope.
As is, and as still proposed, this limited access highway has a tremendous negative impact on our
masterpiece Olmsted Park System. As well, this limited access highway, no matter what it is
called, still serves as a barrier between our community neighborhoods and between a major
campus and its access to water.
Without a wholesale redesign to encompass a new and restored complete street grid system, the
Scajaquada “Boulevard” as proposed will still function as a limited access barrier that prevents
critical restoration of Scajaquada Creek and the re-connection of neighborhoods and commerce.
Significant proposals for investment into waterway health and ecological function, as well as
implementation of the Buffalo Blueway System are, and still will be, curtailed by the current
outdated and short-sighted proposal.
Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper has been at the forefront of the Route 198 design discussions since
their inception over a decade ago, and we have opposed, on record, the development of anything
other than a complete street that reconnects neighborhoods, restores Olmsted’s vision for
Delaware Park, and enables the reclamation and restoration of Scajaquada Creek.
Waterkeeper will remain in respectful opposition to this project, until the NYSDOT recognizes and
meaningfully considers the community’s outspoken petition for the implementation of complete
streets in our urban core. Complete street design considers bicycle and pedestrian commute times
in addition to the vehicular. Complete Streets are designed for people and their appropriate urban
traffic. Complete Streets are designed in a manner that protects and enhances natural resources
while promoting human use and enjoyment. Limited access highways, in contrast, are only
appropriate in the bypass of, and/or the connection between, thriving urban centers. They are not
appropriate within them.