Terry Robinson, the high profile preservationist who is expected to enter the Democratic Party primary for Mayor of Buffalo, is planning to call for the complete removal of the Scajaquada Expressway. Robinson opposes the reconstruction of the roadway, preferring to repurpose it as public park space.
In an interview this morning on WBEN’s Hardline with Dave Debo, Robinson reiterated his long held belief that the expressway irreparably detracts from the flagship public space, designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted.
“The opportunity for really extraordinary world class urban design is upon us — right now. It would be a shame to let the opportunity slip way because of uninspired transportation engineers and the inertia of DOT bureaucracy,” he says.
Robinson supports the removal of the expressway from the Interstate 190 interchange to the Kensington Expressway interchange, allowing for the first phase of a larger eventual restoration of the Humboldt Parkway. A simultaneous clean up of the Scajaquada Creek will allow for the expansion of Delaware Park along the creek and into Blackrock, he argues.
Robinson says that traffic concerns in are overblown and is pledging to make the roadway’s removal a top priority. He wants to break ground on demolishing the expressway while in the first year of his administration.
“My aspirations for the Scajaquada Corridor are strongly influenced by its historic legacy as the naval yard path of fugitive slaves on the underground railroad, in their last steps before reaching the Canadian border at Blackrock,” he explains.
“And since the vast majority of residents in the adjacent neighborhoods want the Scajaquada Expressway entirely gone, the principals of participatory democracy demand this of us. The removal of this expressway is just, reasonable, and necessary,” he explains.
The State Department of Transportation is expecting to pay $115 million to reconstruct the 3.8 mile roadway. Robinson would like that money, beyond the cost of demolition, to be repurposed for bike and pedestrian infrastructure along Scajaquada Creek and in Delaware Park.
Robinson sits on the City Preservation Board and serves on the Board of Directors of Preservation Buffalo Niagara. He is a former police officer who studied at Princeton University and served in the United States Marine Corps. Robinson ran for the Common Council’s Masten District seat in 2007.
Robinson describes himself as a “neo-progressive,” harking back to the Gilded Age when the progressive movement achieved greatly in the areas of public health, consumer protections, environmental conservation, anti-trust laws, and urban infrastructure like public transit and public works.
Robinson says that the reinvigorated spirit and mission of Teddy Roosevelt is needed today, and hopes that the national Democratic Party will agree. His campaign announcement is tentatively scheduled for March 4.