Across Buffalo, a state agency is looking at extending the Metro Rail, another state agency is looking at re-doing the Scajaquada, another group is looking at finding a new Amtrak station and Congressman Brian Higgins is advocating removal of the Skyway. Buffalo's Common Council wants to put together a working group to look at the effect of all of these on the city.
Councilmembers Chris Scanlon and Joseph Golombek say they look back on decades of transportation mistakes and don't want more. They got the rest of the Council to set up a Transportation Working Group to try to take a citywide look at the current situation.
Scanlon said transportation in the city may be drastically changed just by the projects in the works right now.
"When talking about the Scajaquada, we start thinking about other expressways throughout our city as well," said the South Buffalo Democrat. "So what's going on with the Scajaquada? What's going on with the Skyway? What's going on with the Kensington? All these need to be examined. We're talking about where we're going to put the newest train station. We're talking about possible extension of the light rail. We've been harping on NFTA to get their act together."
Scanlon said some of the mistakes are being turned around.
"Some of these expressways being returned to boulevards and things of that nature," the South Buffalo Democrat said. "In Rochester, you're seeing a one-mile stretch of the Inner Loop being converted into a walkable boulevard. In New York, in the Bronx, the Sheridan Expressway received a $97 million [U.S. Department of Transportation discretionary] TIGER grant to return that to a boulevard. Right here in Niagara Falls, it was $42 million to fix two miles of the Robert Moses Parkway."
Golombek pointed to the way the Niagara section of the Thruway cut off Riverside and Black Rock from their waterfront along the Niagara River and wants that investigated.
"As my colleagues mentioned, there does need to be a holistic approach to this," said the North District Democrat. "Just because you fix one little part of the City of Buffalo doesn't mean that it's going to impact or be better for everyone. You should be looking at the whole picture."