Olmsted Parks Conservancy calls for cultural corridor along 198

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- The Olmsted Parks Conservancy is once again criticizing the NYS Department of Transportation’s plans for the Scajaquada Expressway calling it “short-sighted.”

The DOT has been quiet about its plans for the 198 since the last public meeting in January. Now, after a decades of public meetings, the Conservancy is asking the DOT to slow down its plans for reconstruction.

The organization wants the state to consider a new vision. On Monday, the Conservancy unveiled a plan to create a pedestrian pathway to connect the cultural sites along the corridor, from the Buffalo History Museum to the Darwin Martin House to the Elmwood Village.

“Our vision creates an accessible path that will enable visitors to move seamlessly through our cultural institutions,” said Board Chair Dennis Horrigan.

The design they’re proposing would also create a foot bridge to connect Hoyt Lake to the rest of Delaware Park.

In addition, it calls to reroute the 198 so the stone arch bridge over Delaware Ave. can be used exclusively by cyclists and pedestrians.

“We believe this corridor is just as valuable as Canalside, or the medical campus, or any of the other big projects that are going on,” said Crockatt.

According to its website, the DOT is expected to open bids for a reconstruction project in the fall.

Conservancy Executive Director Stephanie Crockatt said the DOT is still in the process of submitting an environmental impact statement to the Federal Highway Commission.

“I’ve heard they may also be putting their design plan forward in an expedited fashion as well, before we’ve had any chance to really look at that final design,” said Crockatt.

The DOT did not return multiple requests for comment but its website says construction is expected to begin this winter and finished by fall 2018.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown didn’t comment on whether he supports this new design but urges the public to speak out.

“We are recommending that stakeholders send any concerns any ideas to the Department of Transportation and the federal government,” said Mayor Brown.

According to the presentation from the last DOT public meeting in January, the state expects reconstruction cost $101 million.

Conservancy said its new plan will cost the same or be less expensive.

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