BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The speed limit on the 198 has been a controversial topic in the community since it was lowered in May, and Thursday evening, protestors plan to add their voices to the conversation to demand the speed limit stay at 30 miles per hour.
The speed limit on the Scajaquada was lowered from 50 m.p.h. down to 30 m.p.h one day after a 3-year-old boy, Maxsym Sugorovskiy, was hit and killed by a car that left the 198 while he was walking with his family in Delaware Park.
Since then, some drivers have pushed back against the lower limit, saying 30 miles an hour is too slow, especially now that new guardrail a have been installed along the 198 in Delaware Park to protect pedestrians.
And, Mayor Byron Brown has said he supports raising the speed limit to 40 miles an hour on part of the 198 away from the park. “We think it makes sense to increase the speed limit so that people who are merging into a faster roadway are at the proper speed to be able to merge effectively and safely,” he said.
Assemblyman Sean Ryan, who has spearheaded the recent effort to turn the expressway into a parkway, has refuted that reasoning for raising the speed limit, pointing out that the sharp curves on the 190 split off the 198 require drivers to go slowly there anyway.
The picketers planning to meet at city hall Thursday evening also disagree with the suggestion that the speed limit on the 198 be changed again. They say any increase would hurt pedestrian safety in the area.
Meantime, work continues to make the 198 more pedestrian-friendly. New, signal-controlled pedestrian crosswalks will be installed on the Scajaquada in August as part of a larger package of changes meant to get drivers to slow down. “The interim steps will keep coming,” Assemblyman Ryan said on Tuesday. “We don’t think we’ve solved it all right now, but we need to redirect our attention now to converting the expressway into a parkway or an urban boulevard, and to develop long term plans for that.”
Several public meetings are being planned in Buffalo in the coming weeks to allow everyone to weigh in on the short term and long term plans for the Scajaquada.
Picketers demanding the speed limit remain at 30 miles per hour are planning to meet at 5 p.m. Thursday at city hall. They are asking demonstrators to wear green, Maxsym Sugorovskiy’s favorite color.
The group planning this picket has also started a GoFundMe campaign to create a memorial garden in honor of Maxsym.