Some Serious Roadwork
by Kevin F. Yost
A few years ago, former Milwaukee mayor and president of the Congress for New Urbanism John Nordquist referred the New York State Department of Transportation’s plan to keep the Skyway and the elevated portion of Route 5 in addition to making Fuhrmann Boulevard a parkway as “putting lipstick on a pig.” The same could be said of the idea to “cap” part of the Kensington-King Expressway (Route 33).
Instead, the portion of the Kensington-King Expressway (Route 33) south of the split with the Scajaquada needs to become a boulevard or parkway with Humboldt and its Olmsted greenbelt restored and extended to Elm, Tupper, Virginia, and Goodell streets, and absorb Galveston Place, BNFC Drive, and Cherry Street.
Route 198 needs to be converted into a slower parkway by being integrated into Humboldt Parkway and extending it beyond Agassiz Circle, which could be made into a roundabout. After all, the Scajaquada west of Agassiz was supposed to be a parkway as planned in the 1920s before it was instead built as an expressway in the late 1950s.
The Kensington-King caused economic blight and segregation on the East Side, and this might reverse that, just as Rochester’s Inner Loop expressway did much of the same there, causing their downtown to be separated from surrounding neighborhoods, and causing them to become their infamous crime- and drug-ridden, blighted, and segregated “crescent.”Rochester is also considering razing that highway and converting it to a boulevard.
This new Scajaquada Parkway also needs to be redirected west of the Grant Street Tops store, across the former Tee-to-Green land and along the railroad tracks, then across a bridge to Fort Erie’s Bridgeburg district and on to the QEW. Such a bridge should be for all kinds of vehicle and not “trucks-only.” Eventually, the Niagara Thruway (Interstate 190) can also be done away with between Michigan Avenue and Sheridan Drive, the latter of which will lead to a third new bridge to Canada. Niagara Street and some of the roads in the Inner Harbor and Cobblestone districts could also then become yet another boulevard along the Niagara and Buffalo rivers.
In the same way, the Skyway needs to come down and Route 5 should not be split between an elevated highway and Olmstead boulevard, but Hamburg Turnpike and Lake Shore Boulevard should be extended and take over the current highway route, traversing the Buffalo River by a lower bridge and split into Delaware and Elmwood avenues and Main, Pearl, and Franklin streets, absorbing the Upper and Lower terraces. There should also be additional bridges for Michigan Avenue and Erie Street as well.
As for getting commuters between downtown and the outer parts of the city and suburbs quickly, this should be the responsibility of the NFTA, not NYSDOT, in the form of expanding MetroRail into a network. The southtowns commuters could save on gas and pollution if the current line were extended from the DL&W Terminal and split with one branch going to South Buffalo, Lackawanna, Blaisdell, and Hamburg and the other through the Hydraulics District and West Seneca. Another line could run from downtown to the Central Terminal, Sloan, Cheektowaga, Depew, and Lancaster. This would eliminate the need for the Kensington-King inbound from the Scajacquada split and the Route 5 expressway. These would stop at a “loop” line that would run from Niagara Falls and the Tonawandas along the Niagara, eliminating the need for I-190 south of Sheridan Drive, and then it would go through the southern and eastern suburbs and back through Williamsville, UB North Campus, and the Tonawandas. A line from the current one at the LaSalle Station to Kenmore, North Campus, and the Tonawandas and an extension of the current line from South Campus along Main Street to Williamsville would also stop at this line. There should also be another line from the Central Terminal along an existing railroad right-of-way to the “loop” along the Niagara River at Black Rock, intersecting with the current line at the Market at Main.
Kevin F. Yost, Henrietta
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