Photo: Jamar Penny

Progress finally comes to Harris Hill Road

“We noticed the yellow signs from people asking Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz to “FIX THIS ROAD NOW” and thought we could do the residents of Lancaster and Clarence one better,” said New York DOC engineer Emily Krasinki. “Now that Lancaster is rolling out incentives for Amazon distribution centers to locate in their town, there’s increased demand by city residents to get out here faster for work. Cars are cars. We have to accommodate the desire of those city drivers to move quickly through your towns. This is a good thing! We think we can take about five extra minutes off their commute, and yours!”

Krasinski and her team, including Deputy Engineer at the Department of Cars, John Blunt, in Albany have developed a solution for the area where they will use a combination of Erie County and New York State funds to remove all stop lights on Genesee by the airport, tunneling its entries and exits, and connect it to a new, 30 feet deep superhighway running north and south between Lancaster to Clarence from Central Ave at Broadway to Harris Hill at Roll Road and widen the road so that cars can move through the area with ease.

“We have to dig it low because neighbors shouldn’t have to see the cars they’ll hear and smell as they speed by. We’ve taken into account how far away most of the homes and businesses are from the existing surface road and we estimate that for about 75% of the 7.1 mile stretch, we can have up to three lanes in each direction. It will include a fast lane, a texting lane, and a merging on and off lane.”

“We know that time in their car matters to the residents of these towns. Those who work in Buffalo every day live very, very far away from their jobs. That’s why they take the 33 expressway every day rather than one of the eleven arterial roads leading into the city to shave off about 10 minutes from their commute,” said Blunt, after presenting the results of their community survey last Thursday night at Clarence Town Hall. “We paid close attention when Joel Giambra demanded we restore Rt 198 from 30MPH to 50MPH to shave 2 minutes 35 seconds off that stretch. We heard all the suburban drivers strongly affirming his wishes for that change, so we think this expansion will be a slam dunk. What better place to increase the speed they can travel at than in their own communities, rather than letting the city have all the fun?”

“Just as we don’t expect suburban residents to slow down through city streets to get to work, we cannot ask the city residents to drive slowly through these Lancaster and Clarence neighborhoods if they’re working out here, or going to whatever it is people do out here for fun.”

After the DOC presented their plans, residents of Clarence and Lancaster were furious.

Shouts from the crowd included, “We asked the county to fix our potholes, not for the state to come in and put a super highway through our neighborhoods!”

One resident stood up and asked “Won’t this just attract more cars to this road, knowing they can go as fast as they’d like? What’s that going to mean for the health of our children?”

Krasinski was ready with a response, “We are happy to answer that question. While the residents living on Humboldt Parkway and the surrounding neighborhoods have cited increased rates of asthma in children and cancer in adults than areas not adjacent to the expressway, correlation does not equal causation and there’s yet to be a study that directly links their proximity to that highway, for some about 24 feet from their front door, to these various illnesses. Look – our charge is to move cars faster. We know that trumps all else around here. Air quality and the community’s overall health is not within the realm of our department’s responsibilities.”

Blunt added, “After imminent domain takes away only about half of your front yard, you can plant some more trees on your property if you’re concerned about the air quality.”

“What will happen to the value of my home if it’s now facing an expressway?” asked another concerned resident.

“Sorry – we deal with cars here, not property values,” replied Blunt.

“Can you at least make the whole thing a tunnel so we don’t have to see this massive expressway?”

“Yes!” Shouted Krasinski. “We just need to install some smoke stacks every quarter mile to keep the air clean for the drivers. Fans will grab that exhaust and pump it into your neighborhood.”

A town official from Clarence was in attendance but asked to be kept off the record when he added, “Look, the city’s taxpayers already subsidize the entire county’s infrastructure from roads to pipes. We’ve been able to sprawl out through these towns without any sort of regional plan or check. If they want faster routes through our neighborhoods, and the state is on their side we can’t really stand in their way. I’m just going to see if we can get some residents hired for the construction jobs so I still look like a good guy.”

Lancaster Booster Club leader Tammy Radowicz attempted to organize a meeting with the residents of Buffalo who saw the 33 Expressway tear out a beautiful, tree-lined, grass median stretch of Humboldt Parkway in front of their homes to see if there were any lessons they could share with the Lancaster and Clarence residents in standing up to the NYS DOC.

“Good luck!” was the only reply Radowicz has received to date.

This was satire. Are you upset? Imagine how the people living along Humboldt Parkway have felt every day for over FIFTY years. Humboldt used to be a park, it used to look like Bidwell, and now it’s loaded with cars and toxic fumes from people who don’t even live in the same city. But we gotta commute quickly, so let’s break ground on Central Ave in 2020!