Outer Harbor

9 Aug

I’m still somewhat puzzled by the incessant desire to:

1. Add heavy truck traffic to a 4 or 6 lane at-grade boulevard;

2. Add heavy commuter traffic to a 4 or 6 lane at-grade boulevard;

3. Enjoy idling truck and commuter traffic at stoplights and intersections on an at-grade boulevard;

4. Ensure major backups on the not-yet-going-anywhere Skyway and on Ohio Street during rush hour, where traffic from those to approaches to the Outer Harbor comes together;

5. Make-believe that it is the bermed Route 5 that is hampering development on the Outer Harbor.

But if people want to do urban planning by lawsuit, that’s fine. The comments at Buffalo Rising naturally devolves into a city vs. suburbs debate, because it’s the evil “other” who are dictating planning decisions to solely benefit the mean, nasty suburban commuters into the city. The commenters want more land opened up for development on the outer harbor at $500,000 per acre. They say that this trumps commuter concerns.

Except it’s not as simple as that. It’s not just commuters who use Route 5. The area on the outer harbor south of downtown Buffalo is home to numerous industrial entities which all use that roadway to access the I-190. There is no viable alternative, unless you’re asking trucks to go down to Blasdell, access the Thruway, and pay a toll, all with $5.00/gallon diesel fuel. (That’s about a 10 mile detour). Or if you’re asking them to cut through at Tifft Street and rumble through South Buffalo’s residential streets.

Which is fine. No one brings up the trucks because even hemp totebags and Kashi get delivered by truck. It’s the commuters everyone comes out against. I think the city can just ask DHS to put up barriers at all city entrances and declare itself a sovereign state. It’ll work because, obviously, suburban commuters don’t contribute to the city’s economy. Right?

Also, cars are bad and people in them are meat-eating bad people.

17 Responses to “Outer Harbor”

  1. Ward August 9, 2008 at 1:45 pm #

    Bravo, BP. Whenever someone says “traffic calming” they mean “traffic elimination”. These folks just want the cars to go away. Not go some other way–go away, out of WNY. Looks like they’re getting their wish.
    Two wheels good–four wheels bad (sorry, Napoleon).

  2. Homer August 9, 2008 at 3:51 pm #

    This is simple. Do you like Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst? Then you’ll LOVE what happens if the Riverkeeper wins its lawsuit.

  3. bflolover August 9, 2008 at 10:30 pm #

    When the Embarcadero Double Decker Freeway was damaged in the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, there were many who wanted to rebuild it. They thought the world would end if it was removed and an at-grade boulevard was installed instead.

    Guess what? They installed the at-grade boulevard – along San Francisco’s waterfront – and it brought that whole area back to life.

    The freeway was host to a much higher level of traffic, yet the at-grade boulevard did amazing things for S.F.

    The Ferry Building ended up being rehabbed & whole areas of the city that were ignored and abandoned because they were next to an elevated expressway were brought back to life.

    See: http://www.streetfilms.org/archives/lessons-from-san-francisco/

    for details.

    Please don’t patronize me with “Buffalo isn’t San Francisco.” That’s right. We’re not. They had MORE traffic on a BIGGER expressway in a LARGER city and the at-grade boulevard works extremely well. We’ve got to start giving ourselves MORE credit and doing the right thing. Every other city in the WORLD is looking to REMOVE barriers to waterfront access!

  4. laughingoutloud August 9, 2008 at 10:38 pm #

    Somewhere aong the line, the BR crowd has to realize that the city must also make its contributions to the local economy. If that means accomodating trucks, then so be it. It cannot remain he only jurisdiction with a negative job growth. While all the other jurisdictions pick up the slack. Yes Buffao SMSA raked 38th in job growth last year, but That net gain was not in the city. And guess what , it will never be Miami north. Industry is part and pacel of the WNY economy. Trucks are a part of anindustrial economy, and industry is not a dirty word.

  5. TBone August 9, 2008 at 11:31 pm #

    Bflolover, While I am not going to patronize you with the ol’ “sanfran isnt buffalo” – buffalo’s outer harbor is not the land that was developed in SF. People seem to forget that outer harbor wasnt always vacant. It is heavily polluted- it will require tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars to prepare for any sizable development. That is the big problem in developing that land… its not the road.

    I dont know what the best alternative for the roadways are in that area, but I am 100% sure that following the riverkeeper plan will not bring development to the outer harbor. Its time this discussion be focused on the facts, not propaganda that has been spread.

    On a side note I saw in the P.O.S. BR article a claim made by riverkeeper that the “rescued land” would get 500k per acre… complete BS- its time for facts-not feelings.

  6. TheRover August 10, 2008 at 9:06 am #

    TBone makes a great point that nobody wants to talk about, the brownfield condition of the waterfront and the cleanup costs of associated with it. That figure of half a mil per acre is about 95% to high given the condition its in with or without the roadway work. I have my doubts that whatever they end up doing/building there won’t end up being much more than a moderately used summer destination point, like some super expensive taxpayer funded city park.

  7. Chris Smith August 10, 2008 at 9:38 am #

    One of the counters to my argument that highways along the water have not hindered development in places like Toronto or Chicago is that they have big, thriving economies and there is no point comparing Buffalo to them.

    Now, San Francisco eliminates a highway and development ensues and I am supposed to compare it to Buffalo even though they have a big, thriving economy?

    I find that to be kind of illogical.

  8. Jim Ostrowski August 10, 2008 at 9:43 am #

    In the absence of feedback from market prices, socialized road-building will always be irrational and arbitrary.

    But, my view is this. We have one of the greatest lakes on earth sitting out there. Yet, we have built huge barriers between that incredible resource and the city. Tear down those walls that Albany and DC built.

    Other cites have done this and thrived. Traffic found other routes. People and businesses will adjust to the new, saner infrastructure.

    As the city becomes more livable, having shed the ghastly expressways, people will move back in.

  9. Jim Ostrowski August 10, 2008 at 1:37 pm #

    Charleston and Savannah have no expressway blocking their cities from the ocean. Frankly, Buffalo’s waterfront is more visually interesting than either of those cities–if you could see it.

  10. Becky August 10, 2008 at 8:33 pm #

    “Trucks are a part of an industrial economy, and industry is not a dirty word.”

    Every time I go down Niagara Street and get stuck waiting for a truck to back in, I temper my impatience with thanks that there are still some businesses there. There used to be so many more.

  11. Dan August 11, 2008 at 7:01 am #

    “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good”. Removing the skyway and the elevated roads will make for a better situation than we have now. I would take NF Boulevard over the current situation.

    Maybe we can’t be SF or Savannah, but we can be a better Buffalo.

  12. Hawk (Not Hank) August 11, 2008 at 2:31 pm #

    Jim: why don’t you go back to filing frivilous lawsuits to make yourself feel better as a “true libertarian” instead of the guilt you obviously have for living off the you-know-what of NYS for years as the son of a former prominent judge (who probably has a very handsome pension). You must really have some guilt issues with daddy’s old job, though I hear your dad was a good judge so don’t take it as a shot at your dad.

    Tbone’s right: developers and business will come when the land is cleaned up. Look at Lakeside Park as an example. That area was a mess from the old Hanna Furnace company and sat dormant for decades. It took the big-bad government to come up with the funds to clean up the mess the good-old private sector left behind and now you finally see business there. It’s not the road that’s a barrier to development, it’s the contaminated road next to the land.

  13. Hawk (Not Hank) August 11, 2008 at 2:33 pm #

    oops, last sentence supposed to say contaminated land next to the road. Fingers too fast for brain again.

  14. TheRover August 11, 2008 at 6:28 pm #

    I’ve always liked the Skyway. Gets me into downtown quickly but more importantly, once the bullets start flying it gets me out of Buffalo even faster.

  15. Denizen August 13, 2008 at 5:06 pm #

    As long as half of downtown is an empty, asphalt junkscape, chances are that the Outer Harbor won’t be seeing any development anytime soon.

    With that said it’s nice to see JimmyO sticking to his libertarian principles and calling out the years and years of federal roadbuilding orgy as being a “socialized” affair. Too many “free marketeers” seem to think publicly built roads are perfectly fine and dandy thing while attacking every tiny little expenditure on mass transit.

  16. Jim Ostrowski August 14, 2008 at 12:15 am #

    Denizen–that’s the difference between the Austrian School and the Chicago School. We think the Chicagoites are a bunch of socialists.


    We know that state socialist economies can’t plan without prices for capital goods. What many fail to realize is that in our own mixed economy, we have islands of calculational chaos where government is in charge: roads, schools, health care.



  1. Buffalo’s Outer Harbor: From Brownfield to Question Mark | BuffaloPundit - November 13, 2014

    […] the idea of construction on the outer harbor were railing against these improvements to access, claiming silly things, e.g., a bermed Route 5 off the Skyway represented a “wall” between Buffalo’s […]

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