The New York State Department of Transportation’s recent plans to revamp Route 33 into downtown Buffalo reinforce my belief that the time is right for a paradigm shift in how we, as taxpayers, fund the design of urban space. Allowing traffic engineers to execute the design process severely limits the possibilities and fair results.
The NYSDOT’s baseline for the redevelopment project is not to impede traffic flow. This is understandable given the discipline’s unique focus – traffic flow.
The means to arrive at a more comprehensive solution to a grave injustice erected by the decimation of an Olmsted-designed multi-user parkway in favor of a sunken expressway lies in a multi-focused discipline like landscape architecture.
Landscape architecture brings a wealth of data into the equation beyond traffic numbers and impact. A broad look at the project with no predetermined deliverables would consider the cultural impact, geography, urban design, ecology, botany, psychology, and history of the site and neighborhood well beyond the street bed.
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I think if all of the above were taken into account, the renovation plan would look very different.
The agency should not lead this taxpayer funded project. The focus should be on restoring the neighbourhood, the health and well-being of multiple user groups and contributing to the legacy of Olmsted urban form destined for this great city.
I’m not convinced that a limited scope being studied by transportation engineers is conducive to the opportunity that the project represents, and that’s tragic.