2 public meetings to be held June 20 at Buffalo Museum of Science as part of ongoing public engagement process; environmental assessment remains ongoing
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the next step of the formal public engagement process for the Kensington Expressway project in east Buffalo, which will reunite two sides of the highway that were separated by the structure generations ago.
As part of this continued engagement with the east Buffalo community, the New York State Department of Transportation will host two public meetings at the Buffalo Museum of Science, located at 1020 Humboldt Parkway, on Tuesday, June 20. The public meetings, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 5-8 p.m., will provide an update to the community on the progress of the project while the Environmental Assessment continues.
"Progress continues to be made on public outreach for the transformative Kensington Expressway project, which will reshape and reunite communities in east Buffalo that have been divided for far too long," Hochul said. "The Kensington Expressway project is a gamechanger for east Buffalo – helping heal wounds from the past, open new opportunities for local residents, and bring a new sense of life and identity to the community. These public meetings will provide another chance for residents to be heard, and I encourage anyone interested in this project to attend."
Hochul’s team said, “The June 20 meetings will provide community members an opportunity to learn about the current progress and the options being brought forward for the project. The meetings will feature an open house setting with several stations, project leaders, and subject matter experts to talk with the community, explain details, and answer questions.
“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 Hochul for this project in east Buffalo, the neighborhoods that were wrongly divided by the Kensington Expressway's original construction will once again be reunited.”
The press release noted Hochul's $32.8 billion, five-year Department of Transportation capital plan, adopted as part of the state's fiscal year 2023 budget, “includes funding to reconnect the east-west neighborhoods across the depressed section of the Kensington Expressway corridor in East Buffalo and reestablish 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 multimodal 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, the I-81 Viaduct Project in Syracuse, and covering portions of the Cross-Bronx Expressway in the Bronx.
“Also, earlier this year, it was announced that a $55.59 million Capital Construction Grant had been awarded to the Kensington Expressway project through the U.S. Department of Transportation's Reconnecting Communities Program. The program, established by President Biden's ‘Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,’ is a first-of-its-kind initiative to reconnect communities that are cut off from opportunity and burdened by past transportation infrastructure decisions. The Kensington Expressway project is one of 45 projects receiving a historic $185 million in grant awards.
“In December 2022, DOT, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, completed the scoping report for the Kensington Expressway project, which identified the build alternative to be advanced for further study in the environmental process. The build alternative includes the replacement of the below-grade expressway with a six-lane tunnel between Dodge Street and Sidney Street and improved community connections. The environmental review is ongoing, while DOT is assessing opportunities to create new open public spaces and enhance bicycle and pedestrian safety. The Kensington Expressway carries about 80,000 vehicles per day.
“The project also includes the reconstruction of Humboldt Parkway while implementing ‘Complete Street’ roadway design features.”
These meetings will feature a stenographer, as well as other methods for the community to ask questions and make comments. Additionally, information and updates can be found at the project's website. The community may also submit comments and questions by visiting or contacting (by mail, email or phone) the Community Outreach Office.
The State Department of Transportation is committed to working collaboratively with the City of Buffalo, the Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council, and the surrounding communities at every juncture as this important project advances.
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, "Gov. Hochul has been, and continues to be, the champion for reconnecting and reuniting communities across the state. The Kensington Expressway project is a major part of that vision, and the Department of Transportation takes its role and responsibility very seriously. This project will improve the quality of life for everyone in this community, but it is imperative that it is done with the input and support of that community. We want to ensure the public is as informed as possible, to ensure that we create a connection with the community to see this project all the way to the finish line."
Congressman Brian Higgins said, "The intent of the Kensington project is to restore community connections. Community engagement is an important part of getting it right this time. The outreach office and public meetings ensure community voices and ideas are heard and incorporated into the project. We encourage neighbors to attend."
New York State Sen. Tim Kennedy said, "The community's voice has driven the Kensington Expressway project forward since day one, and it's only fitting that it continues to play an integral role as it moves forward. I encourage residents to attend these public meetings to learn more from the DOT about how plans are progressing, and weigh in on the next steps of this transformational investment in our infrastructure."
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, "Please join us on June 20th to see the progress that has been made over the last year on ‘Covering the Kensington Expressway.’ I believe that the public will be pleasantly surprised when they see how much of their input is reflected in our updates. I applaud NYS DOT, LaBella and Associates, and the ROCC Community Stakeholders Committee for all of their time and effort to get us where we are today."
Mayor Byron Brown said, "The upcoming public meetings for the Kensington Expressway project bring us another step closer to hearing what the community would like to see as this project moves forward. I thank Gov. Kathy Hochul for her continued commitment to this project, and I encourage residents to attend the June 20th meetings. This is another opportunity for residents in the project area to let their voices be heard on this construction project that is designed to benefit Buffalo's Black community."
Restore Our Community Coalition Chair Stephanie Barber Geter said, "ROCC is pleased to be at this point in the process where we are planning on a number of levels and are delighted to have the community come and understand where we are. This open invitation is for people who want to know the issues that we have considered and our recommendations on how to get those things done. People who live along this road and use this road are invited to attend."