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$55M for Kensington redevelopment project secured by Schumer, Gillibrand, Higgins

With a $1B price tag and still in the planning phase, the Kensington project has been awarded the first infrastructure bill grant aimed at restoring neighborhoods.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, along with their colleague in U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, announced that the Kensington redevelopment project has been awarded a $55 million grant. 

The grant is part of the "Reconnecting Communities Program" portion of the Bipartisan Infrastructure and Jobs Law, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Biden in November of 2021.

"The $55 million is to restore the damage that's been done because of expressway building," Congressman Higgins told 2 On Your Side. "Clearly, the greatest damage was done to Humboldt Parkway."

Prior to the Kensington Expressway being built in 1958, Humboldt Parkway was part of the Olmstead System of parks. 

"The neighborhood has been subjected to decades of disinvestment," Congressman Higgins said.

Gov. Kathy Hochul dedicated $1 billion toward the project in the 2022 budget.

The concept the Department of Transportation has narrowed down to, after 10 were proposed, is a six-lane, 4,600-foot-long tunnel running from Dodge to Sidney Streets. The tunnel would be topped with green space and Humboldt Parkway running on each side. 

"It seeks to to correct the social wrong to fix a historic problem that contributed to disinvestment in that area," Higgins said. 

Higgins also said that more funding could be on the way. 

"My job is to fight for as much federal money as I can to get back to this community so that we can fix those historical wrongs," Higgins said. 

Stephanie Barber Geter has been leading the fight to redevelop the Kensington for at least 15 years. To say she is excited about Friday's announcement by the three lawmakers is an understatement. 

"These three representatives for this community have brought home the bacon," Barber Geter said. "This is our moment to stabilize, to build it back, and build it back better and they've done their job."

While the project remains in the design phase, albeit narrowed in scope, and a lengthy environmental review is needed, Barber Geter is happy and motivated by the announcement of additional funding. 

"We feel more confident that we're going to be able to finish this and then start the next part of the infrastructure project," Barber Geter said. 

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