The Village of Williamsville suffers from crippling automobile congestion along Main Street, between the off-ramps at the I-290 to Youngs Road. This two mile section of Main Street is among the region’s most expensive real estate, and is a thriving neighborhood commercial district lined with mostly locally owned restaurants, shops, and boutiques — complete with beautiful village parks, a historic Mill, and the cascading Ellicott Creek.
But the Village’s small town charm and historic ambiance has been belittled by a Main Street that we have turned into a broad thoroughfare rather than a town center. Traffic congestion has made the space hostile to pedestrians and unfriendly to villagers who might otherwise use the streetscape as active public space.
Driving through the village, you will notice a stunning lack of pedestrians — in a stark contrast to Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, where the density of storefronts trails Williamsville.
There is enormous demand for a walkable village-like neighborhood concentrated around a vibrant commercial district with high quality public spaces. No one would deny that apartments, condos, retail, and office space would all do well in Williamsville — but investment is stunted because of how inhospitable the traffic congestion makes Main Street.
This is because prevailing development patterns have treated Main Street as the primary access route to the I-290, facilitating a daily commutes to the city, and daily commutes to Amherst’s business parks. It is no surprise that chronic daily bottlenecks exist on Main Street.
These bottlenecks can be alleviated by improving access to the region’s highway system by constructing new access ramps between Transit Road and the entrance to the I-290. Giving residents and commuters quicker, easier, and more access to the highway system will shift traffic off of Main Street and onto the I-90, where excess capacity exists.
Traffic patterns can effectively be rerouted around, rather than through Williamsville, by turning Youngs Road into a wider, higher capacity traffic route with direct access to the I-90 in the Wherle Business district.
With daily traffic patterns effectively rerouted, shifting a massive volume of vehicles from Main onto the Thruway, we can begin transforming Williamsville into a profoundly enjoyable public space that far surpasses the Elmwood Village.
Imagine narrower automobile rights of way — replaced with wider sidewalks, bike lanes, and trees lining the street. Imagine slower traffic patterns and cobblestone crosswalks that impose a slower, more breathable pace of life in a Village designed for people over their cars.