Two councilmembers call for raising the 198 speed limit, holding redesign contest

Sep 23, 2019

The struggle over the Scajaquada Expressway's speed limit continues, with two Buffalo councilmembers suggesting a different approach.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo cut the speed limit from 55mph to 30mph after a tragic death in Delaware Park, caused by a car going off the road into the park and hitting a small child. That is mixed with the longer-running issue of re-designing the Scajaquada more toward its original parkway status and away from the high-speed expressway the road became.

Councilmembers Joe Golombek and Joel Feroleto have proposed a resolution to address the 198.

Now, Common Councilmembers Joe Golombek and Joel Feroleto are suggesting something different, raising the speed limit from 30mph to 40mph, and running a design competition for the Scajaquada and the below-grade section of the Kensington Expressway that runs through Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

"We have very little say. Basically, Joel and I wanted to use our bully pulpit to sort of get this message out," said Golombek. "Once again, though, for me the key to the resolution is having a competition to put something together for an alternate plan for that area."

Golombek said the lower limit is not popular in his North District.

"There's a combination that's there," he said. "Some people complain that the speed limit got dropped. Some people were upset that with the  speed limited dropped we had a lot more traffic going onto Amherst Street and some of the adjacent roadways, which personally I think is a good thing, so that people can see the businesses that are developing along Amherst."

Feroleto said a competition, like the one held for redesigning the Skyway, could bring a new perspective.

"There were so many thoughtful, creative proposals that came from people all over the United States (for the Skyway competition) and we think having a fresh look at the 198 is a good thing," Feroleto said, "and sometimes when you have people look at things that haven't been involved, they can offer a new perspective."

There has long been an organized effort to roof over at least some of the Kensington through the park, in order to restore the historic ties between the park and the neighborhood on the other side, particularly the old site of the Deaconess Hospital, which is gradually being redeveloped.

State planners are back at the drawing board after what was supposed to be a drop-dead reconstruction plan fell apart. What that will be and when is not clear. Meanwhile, the speed limit remains at 30mph.