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Different times call for a different highway system in Buffalo

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

It is time to amend the region’s highway infrastructure.

The 1950s-era concept of the metropolitan ‘beltway’ damaged Buffalo badly for the following seven decades.  The city has been severed from its waterfront, egregiously limiting waterfront access, worsening the city’s quality of life, and inhibiting untold billions in development opportunities.

It is beyond time that we throw off the old chains of orthodoxy and the stale thinking of post-war modernism. Don’t let anyone propagate the lie that modifying highway infrastructure is too tall a task. Perhaps it is the quality of our current political leadership and the smallness of their thinking that has so markedly stunted the scale of our civic ambition.

The most catalytic economic development strategy that the city could pursue at this inflection point in its history is to aggressively pursue highway removal. Doing so will spark an era of urban reinvestment that will last for three decades and utterly transform the city.

Removing the Interstate 190 will open up miles of shoreline to public access along the Niagara River, from Riverside to the inner harbor. Hundreds of acres of land can be repurposed from asphalt into public green space and lush parkland. With the I-190 gone downtown, Canalside will have space to grow into downtown. Repurposing the Skyway into an elevated public park space and removing Route 5 will allow an incredible lakefront neighborhood to emerge.

By eliminating the Scajaquada Expressway, Delaware Park can become something this generation of Buffalonians has never enjoyed. The clean up the Scajaquada Creek will help the city shake it’s downtrodden, polluted, rust belt image of yesteryear.

When the Kensington is removed and the Humboldt Parkway restored to its full grandeur, the city will be made whole again.  More evenly distributed traffic patterns will liven streetscapes along Geneses, Broadway, Fillmore, and Jefferson.

In the whole, the quality of life impacts would be incalculable.

Mayoral candidate Terrence Robinson, who sits on the City Preservation Board, is among the small group of civic minded leaders who deserves applause for his visionary views on city planning, and for having the political courage to call for change.  Riverside Councilman Joe Golombek, who has called for a city-wide approach to highway removal, deserves applause as well.

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