Additional safety measures are being put in place for pedestrians and bicyclists along Route 198, aka the Scajaquada Expressway. After a car struck and killed a 3-year-old boy in late May, Governor Cuomo ordered immediate changes to lower the speed limit from 50 mph to 30 mph on Route 198. The Buffalo News is now reporting that The Department of Transportation (DOT) will also construct three signalized crosswalks to allow pedestrians and bicyclists to cross the Expressway with ease. Other changes announced by the DOT include permanent flashing Reduced Speed Ahead signs, narrower lanes, and hatched striping on the shoulders.
Some believe the newly lowered speed limit is too slow. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown has said the speed limit should be boosted in certain segmented areas of the expressway. However, Assemblyman Sean Ryan says the changes to Route 198 will be permanent, adding, “We want obstructions on roadways because that sends a message to drivers that you’re not on a straight-shot roadway and the roadway isn’t just for cars.”
The DOT is also in the process of changing the functional classification of the roadway as a “principal urban arterial – expressway,” which would require approval by the Federal Highway Administration. The classification helps determine the future development, design, and speed limits on the roadway. There will be discussions with elected officials, stakeholders, and the public about other long-term changes to the highway.
While the final costs and timeline remain uncertain, state DOT Commissioner Matthew J. Driscoll explains, “Short-term traffic-calming measures will be made while long-term solutions are finalized, ensuring that the corridor is safer, in harmony with the surrounding community and accessible to motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.”