BUFFALO, N.Y. — On Saturday, Governor Kathy Hochul was in Buffalo to announce a nearly $3 billion infrastructure project, one of which will impact Buffalo.
According to Gov. Hochul, the proposed $32.8 billion State Capital Plan is an infrastructure project that will promote equity, connectivity, and multi-modal transportation opportunities for communities all across New York State.
The project is set to present a generational opportunity to reunite neighborhoods, promote economic growth, and revitalize many of New York's most important urban centers, according to the news release.
For Buffalo, one of the projects will include the construction of the Kensington Expressway, which removed the historic Olmsted-designed Humboldt Parkway and divided the surrounding neighborhoods with the construction of a below-grade expressway.
"Reconnecting neighborhoods that were severed by asphalt highways is a cornerstone of our bold infrastructure vision for a better New York," Governor Hochul said. "Better infrastructure means better quality of life, and the communities around the Kensington Expressway in Buffalo and across our state deserve nothing less. These projects will help right the wrongs of the past through safer and reliable transit networks, landscapes designed to bring communities together, and routes that are friendlier for pedestrians and bikers."
During the news conference, Gov. Hochul also announced that the State Department of Transportation is conducting an environmental review to explore alternatives for reconnecting and restoring the east-west neighborhoods in the City of Buffalo that were divided by the construction of the Kensington Expressway more than six decades ago.
The federally required review will examine the environmental, community, economic and other impacts associated with partial or full coverage of the current Expressway, with the goal of achieving a preferred alternative.
According to the release, the public scoping process will begin this spring with a preliminary scoping report to be completed later this summer.
"The Kensington Expressway project represents a historic opportunity to enhance safety and mobility in and around the City of Buffalo and importantly, reconnects neighborhoods that have been divided for more than a half a century. The Department of Transportation is excited to get this environmental review process underway and looks forward to working with the community and all our partners to further develop this project to help reconnect neighbors, one to another, within the great City of Buffalo and across the great state of New York, " said the State Department of Transportation Commissioner, Marie Therese Dominguez.
Work on the Kensington Expressway in the 1950s and 1960s replaced what had been a grand, tree-lined boulevard - the historic Humboldt Parkway designed by Frederick Law Olmsted with a below-grade highway that severed the connection between the surrounding neighborhoods.
The original boulevard connected Humboldt Park which is now Martin Luther King, Jr. Park with Delaware Park.
The review will also assess enhancements to the roadways to facilitate safe vehicle operations within reconnected neighborhoods.
Project boundaries include the eastern limit of East Ferry Street and the western limit at Best Street.
According to the release, the expressway carries about 80,000 cars per day.
"Covering Route 33 is a unique opportunity to address the generational harm done by the Kensington Expressway when it tore into and severed the Martin Luther King and Hamlin Park neighborhoods. Daily traffic of 70,000 cars has negatively impacted residents' health and lowered property values. Restoring these communities is a matter of racial justice, quality of life, environmental health, and community development while also addressing the Kensington Expressway's infrastructure needs. This would be a significant step towards reunifying neighborhoods and healing decades-old wounds. I applaud and appreciate Governor Hochul's leadership and support in joining our 15-year effort in addressing the Kensington Expressway/ROCC project," said Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes.