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Parkway is example of maintaining racial status quo

Niagara Gazette 13 April 2003

To the Editor:

On December 14, 1995, Cynthia Wiggins stepped off the bus onto a multi-lane highway next to the Walden Galleria in Cheektowaga. Hurrying across the street to get to her job at the mall, she was run over by a large truck and killed. The incident drew national attention to Western New York, focusing on the ugly racial overtones of this tragedy.

Today there is a subway in Buffalo that stops short of the obvious destinations of the University of Buffalo North Campus, Williamsville and Amherst. It's commonly believed that the train doesn't run to these centers of Western New York population and commerce for the same reason that the Walden Galleria kept Cynthia Wiggins at arm's length.

Last but not least, the Robert Moses Parkway is another example of how transportation policy can play a key role in creating and maintaining the racial status quo. This Parkway is a high-speed, limited access expressway that separates the people of Niagara Falls from six miles of their waterfront, deflects tourist traffic away from their downtown, and mars a 12,000-year-old wonder of natural history, the Niagara Gorge, so that exclusively white bedroom enclaves to the north can have an easy commuter route to downtown, and flee back the same way when the work day is done.

Racial discrimination is much more subtle today than the lunch counter, or the back of the bus. As if we needed any more good reasons to remove the Parkway, let's also consider its negative impact on society's divisions.  

James Hufnagel
Wilson NY 14172


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