Transportation projects must have “logical termini,” which is to say that the scope and extent of the project must make sense. When Albany started on its plans to reconstruct Rt. 198, the project extended from the Kensington Expressway (Rt. 33) to the Niagara Thruway (I-190). Albany has regularly referred to the “crucial link” between these two “logical termini” (even though less that 20% of traffic goes from one terminus to the other). The recognition of the start and end points of Rt. 198 for the project was logical, everyone accepted that. At last the idea of funneling a huge volume of vehicle traffic into Delaware Park could be addressed.
Then, a few years ago and without any explanation, Albany decided it would only deal with Rt. 198 from Parkside Avenue to Grant Street. It cut the start and end points out of the project. thus sparing itself the need to figure out how to address the problems at both ends.
The eastern, Main Street terminus involves the fundamental flaw of a massive underpass that diverts a huge amount of traffic to Agassiz Circle and Parkside Avenue instead of (logically) to Buffalo’s “Main” Street. (Anyone who attempts to exit from Rt. 33 to Main Street knows of the impossible configuration created by the DOT decision to have one lane end in a stop sign at Kensington.)
It is at the western end, however, that the DOT’s abandonment of the logical terminus leaves in place a dangerous condition. The exit from Rt. 198 to northbound I-190, and to southbound I-190 as well, has a dangerously short merge area. An incident on Aug. 24 caused by the short merge resulted in a huge traffic snarl when a dump truck hit a car (see photo above from Buffalo News). Locals call the DOT’s configuration the “spaghetti” approach because of the interweaving fly-overs and difficult merges, and there have been many accidents.
The problematic eastern and western ends of Rt. 198 desperately need to be addressed, but DOT cannot figure out how. So they left the problems in place. We deserve better planning.