New Office Located at 878 Humboldt Parkway; Community Outreach Liaison Appointed for the Project to be Based at Outreach Center Tuesday through Saturday
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that a community outreach office has officially opened for the Kensington Expressway project at 878 Humboldt Parkway in the City of Buffalo to further opportunities for public engagement as planning for the project to reconnect the community along the Kensington Expressway in East Buffalo continues. As previously announced by Governor Hochul, an environmental assessment for the Kensington Expressway project is underway and will be completed in early 2024, opening the door for an official groundbreaking by the end of that year. A new website has been launched and two public scoping meetings were held at the Buffalo Museum of Science on June 30, which provided the State Department of Transportation with valuable feedback on the project.
"The Kensington Expressway project has the potential to be a game changer for East Buffalo, opening new opportunities for residents and reconnecting a community literally separated by a highway," Governor Hochul said. "With the opening of this new community outreach center, we will be able to engage directly with the residents that would be most impacted by this transformational project and receive invaluable feedback. It is important that we get this project right and continuing to engage with the community is crucial to its success."
Constructed during the 1950s and 1960s, the Kensington Expressway 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. With up to $1 billion set aside by Governor Hochul for this transformational project in East Buffalo, the neighborhoods that were wrongly divided by the Kensington Expressway's original construction will once again be reunited.
The community outreach office will be open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays and will be staffed by project staff. The public is encouraged to visit the office to get project information, ask questions and participate in the continued effort to collect community input.
Community Outreach Office Hours at 878 Humboldt Parkway:
- Tuesday through Friday: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
- Saturday: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Project staff are also available by telephone at (716) 370-0071 or by email at [email protected]
Public outreach for the project began with launch of kensingtonexpressway.dot.ny.gov/ on June 29, 2022. The project website provides up to date project information for the public.
Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, "The Department of Transportation is affirmatively engaging with the East Buffalo community as it relates to the Kensington Expressway project, and this new office provides residents of East Buffalo with an opportunity to meet with us, ask us questions and get answers in real time. We want to partner with the community on every step in this process as we develop this project. I encourage residents of East Buffalo to visit us — physically at the Outreach Center, online, or at one of many community events we plan to participate in, in the coming months."
Working in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, the New York State Department of Transportation is advancing the environmental review process for this project through an environmental assessment that will build on years of public outreach by NYSDOT and conversations with local leaders on how to best right the wrongs of the past for neighborhoods in East Buffalo. The State Department of Transportation is currently assessing opportunities to create new open public spaces, enhance bicycle and pedestrian safety, and address noise and air pollution as part of the environmental process. The Department is also assessing enhancements to the local roadways to facilitate safe vehicle operations within reconnected neighborhoods. The Kensington Expressway carries about 80,000 cars per day.
Two public scoping meetings were held on June 30, 2022, at the Buffalo Museum of Science. The sessions featured informational panels on the various concepts for the project, including two options which laid the foundation for the potential restoration of an at-grade highway that would restore the original streetscape of Humboldt Parkway. These meetings gave community members an opportunity to learn about the options being considered for the project and provide their feedback to the Department of Transportation. The meeting was followed by a 30-day comment period on the draft project scoping report. Nearly 200 comments were received by the community to help inform the Department's decision-making process.
Department staff also attended and provided Kensington Expressway project information at the following community events throughout the summer:
- Board of Block Clubs Meeting - July 28, 2022
- Community Meeting at Delavan-Grider Community Center - July 30, 2022
- National Night Out - August 2, 2022
- Surviving is Thriving Health Fair - August 16, 2022
- Community Day of Hope - September 2, 2022
- Back to School Block Party - September 3, 2022
In a continued effort to gather input on the project, project staff are now providing project information throughout the fall at various church services in the City of Buffalo including a service at True Bethel Baptist Church on November 13.
Senator Chuck Schumer said, "The transformation of the Kensington Expressway is on its way thanks to historic investments from our Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act. For too long East Buffalo has been divided from the city, exacerbating racial inequities and stifling economic opportunity. It is long past time we overcome this barrier and the community voices must be front and center in building that future. I applaud Governor Hochul and NYSDOT for engaging the community to begin to rectify the damage done to the Martin Luther King and Hamlin Park neighborhoods that have been divided since the Kensington was built."
Representative Brian Higgins said, "This project provides an incredible opportunity to reconnect and reinvest in Buffalo's Humboldt Parkway neighborhood. Active engagement by the community will ensure the project's scope incorporates design features that reflect public feedback and meets the needs of the residents who live in this neighborhood and know it best."
State Senator Tim Kennedy said, "Throughout the entire pursuit of this project, community feedback has been key - amplifying the call for real, transformative investment, and helping to determine the needs and scope of what lies ahead. This brick and mortar community outreach office will continue to fuel that important dialogue, and prioritize public involvement as this project moves forward."
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, "Thank you to Governor Hochul and NYSDOT Commissioner Dominguez for their continued advocacy and partnership. Months after mentioning that they would open a community outreach office for this project, they have made it a reality. Area residents will now be able to obtain information, engage with project consultants, and learn more about our collective efforts to right a historic wrong for the Cover the Kensington Expressway project."
Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said, "The opening of a new community outreach office on Humboldt Parkway for the Kensington Expressway project is another positive step forward in reconnecting the predominantly Black neighborhoods it cut apart when it was first constructed. I thank Governor Hochul for her continued commitment to this project. This new office is another great opportunity for residents to let their voices be heard during a process that will eventually lead to the unification of neighborhoods in our city, and the healing of a community."
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz: "Creating a Community Outreach Office for the Kensington Expressway Project makes tremendous sense and will give the public ample opportunity to be engaged and informed as this transformational project moves forward. I thank Governor Hochul for opening this office and look forward to this project moving forward."
The Department of Transportation plans to publish the final scoping report for the Kensington Expressway Project in fall 2022, in conjunction with a public meeting. The Department is identifying a potential location and will be making an announcement in the coming weeks once the date and location are finalized.
Governor Hochul's historic $32.8 billion five-year Department of Transportation capital plan that was adopted as part of the state's Fiscal Year 2023 Budget includes up to $1 billion to reconnect the east-west neighborhoods across the depressed section of the Kensington Expressway corridor in East Buffalo and re-establish the green space originally provided by Humboldt Parkway, without compromising the long-term capacity of the important regional transportation link provided by the Expressway
In total, the Department of Transportation's capital plan includes nearly $3 billion for infrastructure projects that promote equity, connectivity and multi-modal transportation opportunities for communities all across New York State. In addition to the Kensington Expressway project in East Buffalo, these projects include the reconstruction of the Bruckner-Sheridan Interchange at Hunts Point in the Bronx, converting the existing Inner Loop Freeway into a community boulevard in Rochester, construction of the I-81 community grid in Syracuse, and covering portions of the Cross-Bronx Expressway in the Bronx.
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