Hochul: Latest step in environmental & public engagement process brings project one step closer to shovel in ground in 2024; more information on the project can be found here
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a public hearing on the Kensington Expressway project will take place Wednesday, Sept. 27, in Buffalo. The public hearing, to be hosted jointly by the New York State Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, will provide residents and interested parties with an opportunity to publicly express their views concerning the environmental, economic and social effects of the current design plans associated with the project.
“The Kensington Expressway project is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to set right the wrongs of the past, which contributed to economic injustice and racial disparities in east Buffalo,” Hochul said. “From day one, we have listened to the community and made notable changes to the project due to this valuable input – and we’re not done yet. I encourage everyone potentially impacted by this project to join us on Sept. 27 for this important step in a process that reunites east Buffalo and heals the wounds of the past once and for all. This project will rectify these mistakes by reuniting the east Buffalo community, improving infrastructure and walkability, as well as restoring a place of natural beauty for this generation and for generations to come.”
The public hearing will take place during two sessions at the Buffalo Museum of Science, 1020 Humboldt Parkway, Buffalo: from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m., and again from 4:30-8 p.m.
The Sept. 27 public hearing will provide an update on the progress of the project to date, and actively seek input from the community. These meetings will feature a stenographer and methods for the community to ask questions and make comments. Additional information and updates can be found at the project’s website. The community may also submit comments and questions by visiting or contacting the community outreach office by mail, email or phone.
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 cut through the heart of the surrounding neighborhoods. Torn apart, the community experienced decline and wide-ranging challenges that exist to this day.
“To right the wrongs of this historical injustice and its long-lasting impact, Gov. Hochul has set aside up to $1 billion for the east Buffalo project, which includes restoration of the expansive green space that had once connected the community.”
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, while re-establishing the green space originally provided by Humboldt Parkway, without compromising an important regional transportation link that the expressway provides. In total, the DOT’s capital plan includes nearly $3 billion for infrastructure projects that promote equity, connectivity and multimodal transportation opportunities for communities across New York.
NYSDOT Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “No one anywhere in the nation has done more to reunite communities and work towards revitalization and inclusivity than Gov. Hochul. Her commitment is reflected in the Kensington Expressway project, which will heal the wounds inflicted generations ago in the heart of east Buffalo, in the process enhancing quality of life, walkability and safety in this important area of the city. The Department of Transportation’s commitment to community engagement has helped us gain a deeper understanding of what the community wants in a project of this magnitude. The coming public hearing is another opportunity for community members to make certain their voices are heard.
In December 2022, NYSDOT, 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.
Hochul’s team said, “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 project also includes the reconstruction of Humboldt Parkway while implementing ‘Complete Street’ roadway design features.”
Earlier this year, the Biden administration announced $55.59 million was awarded to the Kensington Expressway project through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Reconnecting Communities Program.
In June, Hochul announced NYSDOT is planning to make improvements to approximately nine miles of local streets and enhance accommodations for pedestrians in the immediate vicinity of the project. Repaved roads, upgraded sidewalks and other improvements will be made to streets on both sides of the expressway as part of project’s goal of reconnecting neighborhoods and strengthening local communities that were ripped apart by the highway’s construction.
For more information about the Kensington Expressway project in east Buffalo, click here.
Congressman Brian Higgins said, “The Kensington Expressway Project will be transformative for east Buffalo neighborhoods. When the expressway was built decades ago, it was done without adequate regard for the people directly impacted. In order to ensure that this project achieves the community equity and connectivity goals we envision, we want to hear from residents. Upcoming hearings will provide an important platform for members of the community to give input while we continue making progress toward our 2024 groundbreaking.”
State Sen. Tim Kennedy said, “The Kensington Expressway redesign has been driven by the community, and that continued collaboration is paramount as this project moves forward. I strongly encourage residents to attend this public hearing, especially the neighbors who will be directly impacted, and those who have been on the front lines in advocating for change for decades."
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, “ROCC has been advocating for justice to reconnect Buffalo’s eastside communities and restore the Humboldt Parkway for over 15 years. We are closer than we’ve ever been currently with 100% funding secured for the project. We need area residents to attend, learn more about the project, and provide commentary at the NYSDOT public hearing scheduled for Sept. 27 at the Buffalo Museum of Science. The community’s input is critical as we work to finalize conceptual plans and transition into the design phase.”
Chairperson Stephanie Barber Geter said, “The Restore Our Community Coalition encourages our community, especially neighborhoods along the Humboldt Parkway, to join us once again to review developing plans for this highly populated road. Come, see, and lend your thoughts to what will be the largest modern day infrastructure project of our generation.”