Tag Archives: traffic

Trucks to Lewiston? Good Idea!

27 Jan

The Sunday Buffalo News published a story about a ultra-top-secret plan to divert all truck traffic away from the Peace  Bridge and onto the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge. A lot of customs brokerage jobs would have to be moved from Buffalo and Fort Erie to Lewiston and Queenston, but neighborhood concerns over diesel particulate would be assuaged. 

Funny, because here’s what I wrote in February 2008 – six years ago:

The Peace Bridge Expansion is Dead. That’s my prediction. It is never, ever going to happen. Not in my lifetime, not in yours. Frankly, I think that increased traffic capacity isn’t needed in Buffalo anyway. Why shove it down Buffalo’s throat if it so clearly doesn’t want it?

The Ambassador Bridge to Black Rock? Not going to happen. No one’s going to build a plaza and new interchange on the US side with the Scajaquada and 190 right there, particularly given the fact that the push now is to downgrade the Scajaquada to a boulevard of some sort.

While an ideal crossing would be across the river just south of Grand Island, so that it would connect up with the I-290 and I-190, that disturbs residential neighborhoods in Canada.

Instead, we should completely jettison the Peace Bridge expansion altogether and instead increase capacity at Queenston-Lewiston. That single span gets a tremendous amount of truck and vehicular traffic, and recently received an upgrade to five lanes. The Q-L bridge provides direct access on both sides of the span to a major highway; the 405 to the QEW on the Canadian side, and the I-190 on the US side.

If there was any semblance of forward-thinking on the part of the CVB, it would already have been in talks to develop and construct a gorgeous visitor’s center that is run locally – not from Albany. Lease some Thruway property from the Authority and give border crossers a reason to come to a whole host of attractions in Western New York. The fact that there is no “Welcome to New York” or “Welcome to WNY” center on this side of the border underscores just how backwards and simple our supposed tourism promoters are. They’re at Thruway rest areas, but not at the border. How patently stupid; you have to wait until you get to Pembroke or Angola – well on your way out of the metro area.

There comes a time when you just say “enough”. The Peace Bridge project has spent ten years in environmental review, design review, and negotiations over the now-dead shared border management. We can sit and wait another few years for a new administration to change its mind, but it’s been almost ten years now that nothing tangible has happened. The preservation community has drawn a line in the sand as far as the neighborhood that would be adversely affected by a new plaza on the Buffalo side, and we all know about Al Coppola’s threat to move his Pan Am house. What else could be more persuasive?

So screw it. Enough. Everybody wins.

Expand the Queenston-Lewiston bridge with a second, signature span across the Niagara River, right at the escarpment with a gorgeous view of the meandering river leading to Youngstown, and Lake Ontario beyond.

I think that the current Peace Bridge span should be replaced with a more modern, signature span, and that the current steel span should then be demolished. We should move forward with shared border management, which would allow US-bound traffic be pre-screened in Fort Erie with perhaps only spot-checks on the US side. The problem isn’t just neighborhood anger, the access to the I-190 is very poorly laid out, with the southbound ramp located about 1/4 mile west from the northbound ramp access road.

 

And it’s still a crime that we don’t have a visitor’s center to promote local businesses and attractions to Canadian visitors coming off the bridges, or really any tourism services of any sort, such as currency exchange. Ontario maintains one on the 420 in Niagara Falls, and another on the QEW near Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Let me know if I can help you with any other ideas. 

Roundabouts: Are they Better?

8 Oct

Have you driven through this, the intersection of Harlem Road at Wehrle and Kensington Ave? It’s a glorious set of two roundabouts, which allow traffic to negotiate what had previously been a set of intersections with lights. I think it works phenomenally well, and I think it’s great that we’re seeing more and more intersections in the area switching to roundabouts – Hamburg especially.

So, the big question – are roundabouts better for traffic? They calm traffic by requiring a yield/slow-down, but are they more or less efficient in terms of getting traffic through an intersection, as compared with a four-way stop? 

Vicious Gangs of Medians

21 Nov

There’s been a spate of incidents on the renovated Main Street where undisciplined, brutal gangs of medians have jumped out in front of various vehicles.

This is reminiscent of, among other things, the vicious gangs of keep left signs that attacked unsuspecting pedestrians in Bolton, UK in the early 70s.

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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.

Traffeine Jam

20 May

The name that Bruce Andriatch has coined for the traffic jams at many local Tim Hortons’ drive-thrus. The only reason why I ever go to Tim’s is the sour cream donuts – glazed or unglazed, and that’s very, very rarely. The coffee there tastes like cigarette butts to me, and they don’t give you a sleeve or double-cup it, so the cigarette butts burn your fingers, to boot.

Traffic and the Lack Thereof

28 Apr

Buffalo is the best city for commuters because we have a highway infrastructure designed in the 50s (and looking every day of it) for a population of 500,000+ people, which everyone assumed would just continue to grow.

(If I might just interject a suggestion or two here: 1. If you’re on the I-90 Eastbound by the airport, the I-290 interchange is counterintuitive. Reconfigure the exit so that the left lanes continue straight onto the 290, and the right lanes turn east towards Albany;and 2. Ramps onto and off of our expressways are banked backwards, increasing the risk of truck rollovers. Bank them correctly.)

The reason I bring this up is this thread at Buffalo Rising, which quickly devolved into silliness. But this post from “Prodigal Son” deserves to be highlighted, because I agree with every word:

I have no patience for either end of the urban vs. suburban debate. Einstein put it perfectly – there is more to either side than Transit Road and Fillmore Avenue.

Arbitrary “distinctions” between neighborhoods divide and hold back WNY as much as high taxes. There is no high moral ground to claim for living in the city, or living in a suburb. You live downtown, ride a bike to work, and eat lunch on Elmwood every day? Great for you – I hope you enjoy the lifestyle you’ve picked. The carbon footprint you save on your bike is dwarfed by your huge heating bill each winter as the energy leaks out of your architecturally correct but wasteful 100 year old windows. You live in Williamsville, drive to work downtown, and get take out from Tim Horton’s? Sounds good too. I hope you appreciate the same commute in Vegas would take 90 minutes and cost $15 a trip in your SUV. Nobody’s perfect – I’m a little sick of the vicious judgement on both sides.

You can’t make a suburb without an urb. Surrounding suburbs of Buffalo need a vital core at its center to thrive. The city is not saturated with uzi wielding hooligans (thanks Irv). At the same time, no successful growing city in America is a dense downtown core with no residential suburb surrounding it. Some people want space, and pay for it. That doesn’t make them bad people or a threat to your bohemian downtown existence.

Give it a rest. Both sides need each other. Let’s take all the the energy wasted in downtown vs suburb battles and invest in some businesses, create a few jobs, and start growing again.

Amen.

In the original post, Newell writes this:

If you want to check out some bad traffic, just head over the boarder to Toronto. I don’t know how the daily commuter can handle that mess. If you hit that traffic look out. You can get stuck for hours dealing with total gridlock.

So, Buffalo. A question.

Would you trade an easy-peasy commute for the growth and urban/suburban vitality of a Toronto? A Toronto which, incidentally, also enjoys a TTC subway/bus/trolley network (when not on strike) and Go trains and buses for commuters from Hamilton, Oshawa, or Barrie and all points in-between?

Traffic via Twitter

6 Mar

Ask and ye shall receive.

Yesterday, I posted a twit thusly:

The most helpful thing I can think of right now would be traffic reports via Twitter. KTHXBAI

Reader KP alerted me to this site, which does just that. There are not, however, a lot of people using it apparently.

Set up a Twitter account, and begin following this user. If you’re driving along and see a traffic incident, you send a twit like this:

@commuter BUF 190 south slow from Tonawanda to Peace Bridge.

That’s a lot to text, so I imagine some imaginative abbreviations would soon develop. But I’ll give it a shot for a while.