Monday, March 22, 2010

Bury The Big Mistake Here, Too . . .

From "Artvoice" comes Bury This Big Mistake -- A story about Buffalo's Kensington Expressway, its past, and possible future.

The $45 million Kensington Expressway tore up Frederick Law Olmsted’s tree-lined Humboldt Parkway, claimed hundreds of homes in previously stable neighborhoods, ripped a trench in the ground that emphasized the city’s racial division, and diverted automobile traffic from the East Side’s once-thriving business strips to a limited-access expressway that shuttles commuters from downtown Buffalo to the northern suburbs in about 10 minutes on a clear day.

In other words: Making the city a backyard to its suburbs. Depressing property values. Starving small businesses on Jefferson and Fillmore of customers and abetting the evisceration of those business districts. Subjecting two generations of residents surrounding the expressway to air and noise pollution.

This could be Downtown and West Utica, with the expressway being the E-W and N-S Arterials. Downtown and W Utica were each divided in two, with scores of businesses eliminated along Oriskany St. E & W, traffic removed from Whitesboro Street (which was chopped into separate pieces) and Lincoln Avenue, and residents in W Utica being brought air and noise pollution.

In Buffalo, the state is now considering options of capping the expressway (i.e., running it underground) and restoring an approximation of the old parkway on top . . . Local officials, however have something else in mind . . . something much cheaper, but, perhaps better for the City of Buffalo.
Last August, Mayor Byron Brown introduced a new design option that has attracted considerable interest among local transit activists: burying the entire thing, from Oak Street to Delavan, and replacing the high-speed, limited-access expressway with a low-speed, at-grade boulevard, fully integrating the traffic it carries with the urban street grid. Coupled with the long-debated plan to slow down the Scajaquada Expressway and convert it to a walkable, bikable boulevard, Brown’s recommendation presents the city an opportunity to restore vital elements of the city’s Olmsted patronage, and to join the 21st century in regard to urban transit planning.

The best future for Utica could be a perfected version of its past.


Mango Man said...

I heard that Concerned Citizens for Honest & Open Government, a local watchdog group has filed a Freedom of Information request for records from the NYS Dept of Transportation, Utica, New York office, however, they are claiming that certain records have to be redacted? I wonder why?

Also, it is said that the NYS DOT refuses to comply with FOIL in-so-far as NOW wanting to charge for these records whereas in the past, they were transferred onto a CD medium?

Is this all true and why is the NYS DOT putting up such a "front" over the release of these records? Are there some back-room deals being entertained?

Strikeslip said...

If Concerned Citizens is on it, I'm sure they will get to the bottom of it.

One has to be concerned that deals are being made between NYSDOT and private people based on past experience. Remember Route 840 where NYSDOT made verbal promises to the owner of the New Hartford Business Park that the Business Park would be given an intersection. . . . all without waiting for a proper Environmental Impact Statement and without an opportunity for the public to weigh in on whether they even wanted another intersection on 840.

Something does not smell right.

NewYorkCentral said...

It seems the big attraction of either the raised or sunken plans for the 'north-south arterial' is that it gets someone else to pay for it.
Personally, I think that just bagging the whole thing is the right way to go, too; cheaper to do and cheaper to keep up. The 'arterial' doesn't really save that much time (given that it already has intersections with stoplights) so why not make it 'just another street in Utica'?

Greens and Beans said...

We should all be grateful that Utica never decided to wreck the Memorial Parkway with making it a freeway. It would be wonderful if they could revert Oriskany Street back to its glory and convert the General Pulaski Highway a.k.a. the North South Arterial into a parkway type roadway. Perhaps introduce some shops, bistros, and even a pedestrian park with a fountain and perhaps a statue of General Pulaski. I envision a place where a Senior Citizen housing project could be built on the former Bossert Manufacturing site with a nature trail to connect the Canal trail with the Rayhill trail. What a great place to have entertainment in the warm summer evenings in the heart of Utica. This would be within blocks of the West End Brewery, The Stanley Performing Arts Center, Munson Proctor Institute, Fountain Elms, and the Utica Public Library. Wow, talk about being rich in Culture! If only we could get the bickering politicians to become allies for the sake of one heck of a great place to reside. And to think, it only takes a little dreaming and we can make Utica a city where people will want to move to.

Anonymous said...

No matter what, the bridge over Oriskany Street is substandard and in need of replacement. GREAT, replace it and leave the rest alone. Wonder why they didnt replace the structure 20 years ago when they did the MUD Project? The bridge was 30 years old then.

Maybe spend $1 million to teach people how to cross the road instead? How many of the pedestrian accidents occurred that weren't the drivers fault?