Buffalo's Top Scribe: "Wall-Like Road Makes No Sense"
Donn Esmonde weighs in on the waterfront debate again this week with his commentary in the Buffalo News, "Route 5 barricade heads to court."
At question is what to do with the embanked Route 5 which runs along the Lake Erie waterfront for three miles before connecting to the Skyway Bridge over the Buffalo River.
Community groups, ranging from the Partners for a Livable Western New York to the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, are suing to stop the State Department of Transportation's plan to retain the embanked Route 5 highway. In addition to keeping the embanked road, the state plan would build an access road immediately adjacent along with a couple of expanded diamond interchanges.
Esmonde captures a number of the key motivations for the lawsuit and the push to replace the embanked highway with a single boulevard that could attract redevelopment:
--"[The community groups] feel betrayed by a process of public hearings that seemingly supported a single-boulevard plan and ended up keeping the upraised Route 5. They are frustrated with a $55 million “solution” that does not erase the problem. They are afraid that the push in an economically desperate community to Just Do Something will prompt us to Do the Wrong Thing."
--"Ironically, it is the so-called obstructionists who want to remove the obstruction to development."
--"Trying to save us from ourselves is a nationally respected urban planning group. John Norquist of the Congress for New Urbanism called the state’s plan “weirdly out of date” and said that it “hinders development.”
--"This is not about a road. It is about turning our embarrassment of a waterfront into a place where people work, play, live and hang out. That has not happened, because roads and bridges that should bring us to the waterfront — from the Skyway to an upraised Route 5 to an abysmal Fuhrmann Boulevard — instead are barriers that keep us away."
--"Spending $55 million taxpayer dollars to prolong the life of a wall-like road makes no sense. That is why a lot of thoughtful people are angry — so angry that they went to court to stop it."
Read Esmonde's full article, "Route 5 barricade heads to court."
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