Hochul: Latest step in environmental and public engagement process brings project one step closer to a shovel in the ground in 2024
√ Comments can be submitted at upcoming public hearing or via mail or email until Oct. 27
√ Report available online here
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the draft design report/environmental assessment for the Kensington Expressway project is now available for public review and comment.
Her team said, “The report describes the project; details the social, economic and environmental effects of the project; and outlines measures to mitigate any adverse effects. Release of the report is the latest step in the environmental review process and is part of the state Department of Transportation’s ongoing commitment to work with the community and engage stakeholders at every juncture of this transformative undertaking.”
Hochul explained, "We are now one step closer to breaking ground on the Kensington Expressway project to correct one of the most damaging planning injustices of the 20th century and help reunite communities in east Buffalo. Community engagement is key to making this project a success, and I encourage all community members and stakeholders to review this assessment and offer feedback as we work toward a final project that reconnects neighborhoods, enhances safety and mobility, and improves the quality of life in east Buffalo.”
Copies of the DDR/EA are available for review and copying online at the project website or at the following locations:
√ Buffalo City Hall, 65 Niagara Square
√ Central Library, 1 Lafayette Square
√ Frank E. Merriweather Library, 1324 Jefferson Ave.
√ New York State Department of Transportation, 100 Seneca St.
√ Project Outreach Office, 878 Humboldt Parkway
Release of the DDR/EA follows Hochul’s announcement that NYSDOT and the Federal Highway Administration will host a public hearing on the Kensington Expressway on Wednesday, September 27, at the Buffalo Museum of Science, 1020 Humboldt Parkway. The hearing will have two sessions – 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m., 4:30-8 p.m. – and 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 first session will begin with an open house at 10:30 a.m. that will be followed by a formal presentation at 11:30 a.m. and public testimony. The second session will begin with an open house from 4:30-5:30 p.m. followed by a formal presentation at 5:30 p.m. and public testimony. The public testimony will be recorded and become part of the project record.
Written comments on the DDR/EA can also be submitted via email to [email protected], or by U.S. mail to Kensington Expressway project team, NYSDOT Region 5, 100 Seneca St., Buffalo, NY 14203, until Oct. 27. Following the public comment period and public hearing, the environmental assessment process will conclude with either a finding of no significant impact (federal)/determination of no significant effect (state) or a determination that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required.
NYSDOT Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “From the very beginning of the Kensington Expressway project, the Department of Transportation has worked to engage the community, and the draft design report/environmental assessment is a product of those efforts. I urge everyone to review it and offer their thoughts and feedback so that this once-in-a-generation opportunity to reconnect long-divided neighborhoods is done right and brings new growth and opportunity to east Buffalo.”
Congressman Brian Higgins said, “Release of the environmental report is an important milestone required in all major infrastructure projects. This lays out a path forward, provides public transparency, and welcomes community feedback as we work to right a historic wrong and reconnect the Humboldt Parkway neighborhood.”
State Sen. Tim Kennedy said, "Public feedback has always been a critical component of the Kensington Expressway redesign, and this is yet another opportunity for our greater community to weigh in now that the environmental assessment is available for review. I encourage all residents impacted by this transformative project to review this report and submit comments as this important process continues."
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, “I am pleased that Gov. Hochul published the draft environmental assessment for the Kensington Expressway project. I encourage residents and motorists who would like to review this document to pick up a copy from Buffalo City Hall. You can review the assessment, and offer comments to NYSDOT about the plan.”
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. Gov. Hochul’s historic, $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 reestablishing the green space originally provided by Humboldt Parkway, without compromising an important regional transportation link that the expressway provides. 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 across New York.”
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. The build alternative includes the replacement of the expressway with a six-lane tunnel between Dodge and Sidney streets, 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 has been awarded to the Kensington Expressway project through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Reconnecting Communities.” The program, established by Biden’s “Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” is an 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 $185 million in grant awards.
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.
NYSDOT said it’s 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 project advances.
For more information about the Kensington Expressway project, click here.