Buffalo's road woes must come to an end

Basic elements of the city’s infrastructure should not be overlooked amidst larger-scale projects

Broken waterlines and bumpy roads are a constant headache for Buffalo residents, as this endless winter continues to wreak havoc on the most everyday – and essential – aspects of the region’s infrastructure.

So although large-scale projects like a renovated Peace Bridge sound exciting, and undoubtedly will invite increased business activity to the area, Buffalo’s residents just need functional roads.

The Peace Bridge project holds a great deal of promise, certainly. By next year, an extensive widening of the Panama Canal will be complete, tripling the canal’s capacity and allowing much larger ships, with more freight, to pass through.

As a result, Buffalo’s role as a transportation and shipping hub will be expanded, reinvigorating businesses like logistics and warehouse companies.

This is a promising development, and it’s true that Buffalo needs to be ready to handle the increased demand.

But this sort of catering to businesses and travelers, who would also benefit from Peace Bridge renovations, neglects residents of Buffalo and their much more basic – and critical – needs.

A balance must be struck between these dueling priorities.

It’s important to ensure that Buffalo doesn’t miss out on an economic opportunity and avoids becoming a weak link in the transportation chain from ports in New York City and New Jersey to Canada.

But it’s equally critical that residents of Buffalo feel safe driving on the city’s roads – and walking on its sidewalks.

An influx of business to the area is exciting primarily because it benefits the people of Buffalo, but improvements and repairs to the city’s basic infrastructure issues would be beneficial as well – and the positive impact would be noticed immediately.

Major streets throughout Buffalo are quickly becoming unsafe to drive on, as deep potholes and extensive surface damage from this harsh winter have turned roads into rough terrain.

Simply commuting to work or school shouldn’t be a painful task, and right now the terrible state of Buffalo’s roads makes it so.

More needs to be done than simply placing signs warning of a “rough road” ahead – roads need to be repaved and repaired correctly, to ensure that residents can enjoy smooth streets along with the advent of warmer weather.

And as drivers struggle along on damaged roads, another promising solution presents itself – one which deserves far more funding and attention than the Peace Bridge, and one which would directly improve the lives of Buffalo’s residents.

The simplest solution to drivers’ woes is reducing the need to drive and cutting down on the number of drivers on the road by improving public transportation.

Major cities across the United States have public transit systems far more extensive than Buffalo’s, and have created environments where driving is more of a rarity than a necessity.

Although Buffalo may not be able to be construct as widespread a system as cities like Boston or New York City, a more widespread rail system would be a boon to Buffalo’s residents.

Improved bike lanes were a great first step – assuming they haven’t been rendered useless by potholes or poor maintenance.

Now, it’s time to continue the trend of sustainable and accessible mass transit options – as Buffalo dedicates funds to ease the movement of semi-trucks and shipping containers, the commutes of residents themselves should not be forgotten.

email: editorial@ubspectrum.com