Tag Archives: route 5

Southtowns Connector Protest Saturday

13 Sep

You can read all about it here (with a special Jim Ostrowski comment about “socialized roads”). I won’t be going.

If the protesters had any sense of irony, they’d go protest during the height of afternoon rush hour on any given weekday. I’d say 5:15 pm. After all, why not publicize their point of view to the people whom it most directly affects? There aren’t any residents out on the Outer Harbor adversely affected by Route 5. There aren’t any businesses adversely affected by Route 5. The only people affected would be commuters. That’s the only rational target audience.

10am on a Saturday? Total cop-out.

Hypothesis

21 Aug

A picture of traffic at 5pm sharp on a Friday in the summertime is proof positive that a four-lane at-grade boulevard coming off the Skyway onto the Outer Harbor is an A-OK idea.

Here’s what I wrote about the actual traffic situation coming off the Skyway during rush a month ago.

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.

Postscript for the Boulevard Alternative

23 Jul

My oldest daughter is attending a camp located south of downtown this week, which means that I commute downtown with her and then take the Skyway. Yesterday morning I mixed it up a bit and cut through South Buffalo over to Tifft Street to get to Fuhrmann Boulevard, but when the day’s over I have really no choice but to take the Skyway in order to reach her in time.

As everyone knows, the reconfiguration of Route 5 and Fuhrmann Boulevard has already begun, and traffic is re-routed to a new 4-lane Fuhrmann Boulevard that runs two ways on the side of the bermed Route 5 closest to the water. There is a traffic light by Dug’s Dive where traffic from Ohio Street meets Fuhrmann.

The last two days, during the afternoon rush, that road has been backed at least halfway up the Skyway – Monday it was backed up all the way to the Aud. This is solely due to the light at Dug’s Dive, which is a solid two miles down the road from where traffic halted.

The proponents of the Boulevard Alternative to the Route 5 configuration claimed that six lanes worth of surface-level traffic would have been great and created a sense of place and associated whatnot, but it also would have created traffic that has to stop at intersections, thus backing traffic up at rush hour. As much as they decried the horrific noise from traffic on the bermed Route 5, I wonder how and why noise and pollution from 2 miles’ worth of cars, trucks, and buses idling at a red light during rush hour would have been such a significant pro-urban development.

Yes, hopefully sometime in the future the Skyway comes down and the bermed Route 5 becomes redundant due to a Tifft Street arterial, but the former hasn’t been decided on yet, and the latter is some years down the road. In the meantime, the DOT has fulfilled its mission by reconfiguring Fuhrmann and a limited access Route 5 so as to swiftly whisk commuter and truck traffic out of downtown in the direction of the outer harbor, Blasdell, and Hamburg. New interchanges will make access to the waterfront easier so that people can enjoy the new park and whatever else might get developed and built out there on the waterfront.

But in the meantime, the traffic at that light speaks for itself.

The Complaint

16 Jan

Click here to read it.

Thanks to the BN Riverkeeper’s Executive Director, Julie Barrett O’Neill for forwarding it to me. Any environmental lawyers there who can give their take on this? I’d like to speak with O’Neill and someone from Higgins’ office to get the two sides of the story on this, but it’s way outside my expertise.

Waterfront Coalition v. Fuhrmann Access

15 Jan

To quote the great 20th century philosopher Gomer Pyle, “Surprise, surprise!”

Certain of the Waterfront Coalition members have filed an action seeking to enjoin progress on the Southtowns Connector project.

State officials bid out the project in November following years of planning and discussion. But critics complain the design will maintain an elevated highway that has long been a barrier to waterfront development.

The court challenge is based on two issues, said Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper Executive Director Julie Barrett O’Neill. The first claims that major changes were made to the final environmental impact statement … revisions that should have triggered follow-up studies. The second allegation is that planners failed to make sure the Southtowns Connector is in compliance with the Niagara River Greenway Plan.

The Waterfront Coalition is made up of these groups:

The Baird Foundation
Buffalo First
Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper
Elmwood Village Association
Greater Buffalo Building Owners & Managers Association
Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier
The League of Women Voters, Buffalo / Niagara
The New Millennium Group of WNY
Partners for a Livable Western New York
Preservation Coalition of Erie County
Sierra Club, Niagara Group
The Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo

Yet only three of them have signed on as plaintiffs, and a non-member – Seven Seas Sailing Club – is a named plaintiff. I don’t quite understand why that is. I have an email in to representatives from all four plaintiff organizations to find out more.

In order to enjoin the project, the plaintiffs must show that there is an imminent risk of irreparable harm, together with a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim. The State DOT has not yet commented on the lawsuit. When I find out more, I’ll post it here.

Disappointment is my muse

21 Dec

high_ground_of_an_argument.png

So, in a thread over at Pundit’s blog, Harvey Garrett took serious umbrage with our satirical video that featured Alan and I as activists.

It was a sophomoric, satirical parody of an issue Alan and I had seriously debated and discussed on both of our blogs and on other local sites of interest.

At the conclusion of five issue specific postings by me, two from Alan, one interview with Brian Higgins, attendance at a Waterfront Coalition press conference, several phone calls with Harvey, and dozens of comments on a site we dare not mention (less the whiners come out)…we were a little tired of the topic. It seemed as if we were screaming common sense into the void and all we heard back was emotional dissonance.

So, we felt we had talked enough. Marc Odien and I went to a press conference on the waterfront held by the Waterfront Coalition that lasted 45 minutes. Seven members of the Coalition spoke, as I recall, as did Mickey “gearing up for my Higgins primary election” Kearns. It was so cold, windy, and miserable out there that the hard drive on our camera froze and our footage was lost. Seriously. Over a couple of slices of crappy pizza at the office, we decided to re-film the press conference in our own way and have some fun.

I knew when we posted it, the comments would range from “Hey, that’s funny” to “Alright, that was lame. Don’t quit your day jobs.”

I didn’t suspect the following comments:

Paul Francis writes:

This forum is Buffalo’s official sounding board for mere commentators whose self-annointed pursuit is bashing the folks who do actually work hard advocating for the city. These commentators – oh wait, pundits – then sheepishly shrug their shoulders when those advocates savor a victory. Hopefully this knock on the Waterfront Coalition is one of those instances.

Hell, some bloggers are actually out fighting for this town. None here!

Our self-anointed pursuit is to comment on things we find interesting and add to the discussion. Which we did on this particular issue ten times and with a podcast. We do not sheepishly shrug our shoulders, we doubt the outcomes and the means with which these Pyrrhic victories were achieved.

Paul is referencing our positions on Bass Pro (Just build it already) and the Outer Harbor (just build it already). Honestly, I have never seen more self congratulatory backpatting as I saw after Higgins and Brown announced that Bass Pro would be leaving the Central Wharf and be moved to the Auditorium site. An “agreement” to which Bass Pro has not publicly nor formally agreed to. The incongruous and illogical mockup of foam that was hastily crafted out of a wet dream does not reflect what could or will be built on the Inner Harbor.

Also, we’re not out fighting for this town? Seriously??? That’s the best you’ve got? When Marc Odien started WNYMedia.net in 2003, it was the only local outlet specifically designed to be the voice of the people. In 2004, Marc started community activism on the network with his event at the Central Terminal called “Rock, Rap, and Register”, which was designed to educate and register voters prior to the 2004 Presidential election. Marc has produced two critically acclaimed documentaries on voting and predatory house flipping and been an arbiter of progress and dissent since blogs were “underground”.

Proactively, members of this network and the company that owns it have managed/marketed/directed/participated in four well attended and well covered regional public forums on county government, regionalism, urban sprawl, and waterfront development.

We’ve served on the boards/served as directors of/or materially supported: the WNY Coalition For Progress, Buffalo Old Home Week, Revitalize Buffalo, Broadway Fillmore Alive, Central Terminal Restoration Corporation, Broadway Market, Housing Court Liaisons, Parkside Community Association, Community Music School, Buffalo ReUse, Buffalo Micro Parks, BANANA Rallies, Free Buffalo, Free New York, Primary Challenge, United Way, American Red Cross, YMCA, and the list goes on and on.

Several of our bloggers have run for public office, we are affiliated with progressive blogging politicians like Mark Poloncarz and Cindy Locklear and we work with the City/County governments and public authorities to increase access to information. We have provided an outlet for discussion of politics and community affairs, created some controversy ourselves, and have been lauded as a leader in citizen journalism.

We are progress and change, bitches. You might not like the kind of progress we represent, but we have tens of thousands of people who read our sites each month that seem to dig it. We’ve earned the right to have a little fun now and again.

I’m disappointed that I have to write this post. I’m disappointed that a simple disagreement on an issue brings out condescension from a self appointed arbiter of what “new media” is and should be.

Harvey Garrett writes:

What happened to you two (and WNYMedia)?

What happened is that Harvey doesn’t like our previously well described positions on the issue at hand, that’s what. A plan has been agreed to, evaluated, and sent our for bid. A group of people collectively decided that they did not like that plan. In this situation, the burden of proof is on the challenger who wishes to disrupt a completed process to justify said disruption with an argument more finely tuned than “Expressways are bad, we don’t like them”.

The waterfront coalition and those who claim to speak for them are engaging in what economists call “uncertain predictions”, those which we can not specify a reliable distribution of probabilities. The sum of the argument against the approved NYSDOT plan is emotion and opinion, not fact.

At it’s very essence, at it’s very core…the WC is a group of people who don’t deem this particular type of progress to be good progress. Really, it’s all quite subjective.

They deem it to be inadequate progress whereas I deem it to be completely satisfactory. Why is that? Because no one can clearly demonstrate how the current DOT plan disincents progress, development, or removal of the skyway with any reasoned logic, facts, or probability. The coalition believes that the current plan is “bad” and they believe it will lead to the extended life of the Skyway. There is no objective reality in that assessment, they just think its bad. Just as Higgins, Pundit, and I think it’s not.

It would be educational to determine what it is they want to accomplish on the waterfront. Access? Pedestrian friendly? Development? What else? Once that is determined, the burden of proof is on the WC to demonstrate what in the current plan or the NYDOT boulevard alternative plan either incents or disincents any of those goals from happening.

If the current plan can be objectively determined to disincent those critical factors from being accomplished, we have a discussion. If not, we have a subjective argument over what you like versus what I like, which is pointless.

Much like the effort I have spent in combating someone’s “disappointment” in my progressive and community driven organization.

The Coalition For Enough Already

14 Dec

A CFEA press conference today regarding our master plan for Buffalo’s waterfront and the City of Buffalo as a whole.

The Waterfront, Part 72

14 Dec

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I officially give up. I can no longer summon the will nor the passion to sensibly debate issues surrounding the waterfront, the inner harbor, the outer harbor, the Skyway, Route 5, boulevards, or highways along said waterfront.

I am officially ceding all future development to people with access to Google Sketchup and a dream.

Frankly, I no longer care if anything ever gets built on the outer harbor nor do I carry much concern for the development of the inner harbor either. Why? Because all we discuss/debate/argue are pie in the sky, silver bullet plans with little likelihood of ever being built. If a plan is ever selected, it will then be debated/argued/litigated until we move on to the next compromise plan.

You want a mockup of a wet dream inner harbor featuring randomly placed canals and streets put together 10 minutes before a press conference? It’s all yours! You want a six lane boulevard on the outer harbor? You got it. You want a mule path instead of the I-190? Do whatever you want.  Would you like to pretend that we have similar economic development possibilities as Toronto, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, and Boston?  Super, help yourself!
Clearly, I do not belong in the debate as my sensible questions and pragmatic point of view are but an inconvenience.  The fundamental disconnect between the reality of life in Buffalo and Western New York and many vocal denizens of Buffalo FARL (Forest to Allen, Linwood to Richmond) is shocking and illogical to engage.

I’ll instead focus on issues that, ya know, actually matter.  The root causes of our urban shrinkage and decline…not the symptoms or the effects.  Like the moribound local economy, exceedingly high tax burden, ineffective and intransigent government, urban blight, house flipping, shrinking city, suburban sprawl, crumbling (non-waterfront) infrastructure, failing school system, political corruption, unionistas, crime, and all the other reasons that make these waterfront discussions utterly pointless.  I’ll continue discussing these issues, promoting solutions, and looking to effectuate change in the political and economic arenas as I have always done.

I just can’t fathom ever getting involved in another lengthy discussion regarding the waterfront. So, I join the 99% of people in Western New York who have completely given up on ever seeing progress on the waterfront.

Ya know what? It feels good.

Point/Counterpoint – Borough-ing To A Bigger Buffalo

28 Nov

I think this short audio file sums up the debate so far on regionalizing Buffalo…

[audio:http://wnymedia.net/podcasts/bouroughingintheburbs.mp3%5D

Point provided by Elmwood Trey

Counterpoint Provided by Lancaster Stan

lancaster stan