√ New office located at 878 Humboldt Parkway; community outreach liaison appointed for project to be based at outreach center Tuesday through Saturday
Earlier this week, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced 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.
Her team said, “As previously announced by Gov. 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.”
Hochul said, "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. 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."
Hochul’s team said, “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 Gov. 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.
Office Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday. 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. The project website provides up to date project information for the public.
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."
Hochul’s team said, “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 June 30 at the Buffalo Museum of Science. The sessions featured 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.
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 Nov. 13.
Congressman 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."
New York State Sen. 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 Gov. 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 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 Gov. 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."
The Department of Transportation plans to publish the final scoping report for the Kensington Expressway project this fall, in conjunction with a public meeting. The DOT is identifying a potential location and will be making an announcement in the coming weeks once the date and location are finalized.