The 5 Worst Buffalo City Planning Ideas
It's being reported that the City of Buffalo is requesting $32 million dollars to re-open Main Street to the public. I think you'll agree with me when I say this: the idea to close it in the first place was a less than brilliant plan by the city. As you know, there have been other strange decisions when it comes to city planning. See where this ranks in our list of the 5 worst plans the city has put into action over the years.
Ah yes, the traffic circles, or "roundabouts" as Sheila your Australian-voiced GPS likes to say. It's the stretch of road where merging becomes a matter of life and death for the driver. This comes in at number five on our list, as unlike the rest, this causes only inconvenience rather than disaster. For years I drove through Gates Circle (Delaware Ave) on my way to school, and never before had I seen so much confusion from drivers. It's not a problem when you're already on Delaware; the problem lies when you're coming from Chapin Parkway and have to merge. Traffic would often be held up as cars sometimes had to wait several minutes before they were able to find an opening in the mass of moving traffic. Maybe this was the only thing city planners could do for a six way intersection, maybe not. I'm no highway designer, but I have to think there has to be a solution that doesn't cause so much road rage and congestion.
In 1964, after UB had been assimilated into the SUNY system, a huge plot of land was purchased in Amherst for what would become the north campus. The question I ask is, why under any circumstance would they move the campus to the suburbs rather than expanding their existing city campus? To me, it doesn't make sense to direct people away from the downtown area. Thousands of students living in downtown dormitories mean increased business for local restaurants, bars, and shopping locations. Isn't that what the city is dying for, more life? More people? I'll admit that the North Campus did help exponentially in the development of Amherst and has helped the businesses in the area. However, more important to the region is the reinvigoration of the downtown area, and there is no doubt in my mind that a main downtown campus would have been an enormous boost.
In the 1950's, the Buffalo portion of the I-190 was completed as a way to connect the city to Niagara Falls. There's only one problem with this; the Thruway Authority decided to build this stretch of highway directly adjacent to the Niagara River. Why the city or state would allow this I have no idea. Separating people from one of the areas natural resources is just plain dumb and short sighted. Instead of condos, hotels, restaurants, or beach fronts, we're now stuck with an eyesore of congestion and pavement. It's just one of several examples of the city not taking full advantage of the resources and natural attractions our area is blessed with. Put the thruway anywhere, anywhere besides there that is.
Let's face it, Americans love their cars, and it's no different here. I can say with plenty of confidence that people are more likely to go somewhere if they can drive there themselves. Many refuse to use public transportation, many don't know how. Think about it, the heart of downtown Buffalo a very exclusive place. No, you and your family can't drive down to the theater district to catch a play, can't support local restaurants or businesses. Why, you ask? Because the only way you'll be able to make your way down Main Street is if you go through the inconvenient process of parking, paying for and catching a train, and continuing to your destination on foot after you reach the nearest stop. Don't stay out too late though, the last train leaves at 12:30. So get out early if you want to get home that night. Who came up with this brilliant plan to close Main Street off to the large percentage of the public who won't use public transportation? Anyone? Anyone?
Oh what could have been. From 1960 to 1973, the Bills played their home games at War Memorial Stadium located downtown. In 1973, they were forced to either expand their current home or move, as the stadium did not meet the 50,000 seat minimum implemented by the league. The Bills considered a move to Lancaster, where a state of the line domed-stadium would be built. After the town denied this request due to the fact that the stadium would be located too close a school, Ralph Wilson settled on Orchard Park. Talk about a detrimental series of events for the city. It's no secret that downtown businesses have struggled, mostly due to the lack of a population presence in the city. In the WNY region, the majority of people live in suburbs either north or south of the city, presenting problems for downtown establishments. Imagine if 80,000 fans made the weekly trip to Ralph Wilson Stadium, located on the waterfront downtown. That's 80,000 people who would eat at restaurants before the game and find themselves at a bar afterwards. It seems like a no-brainer, and that's why it made our top spot on this list.