Back to the Future for Humboldt Parkway?

September 27, 2013 Updated May 5, 2010 at 6:56 PM EDT

By Ginger Geoffery

September 27, 2013 Updated May 5, 2010 at 6:56 PM EDT

It's one of the major routes into and out of the city of Buffalo but commuters who rely on the Kensington Expressway will have to add more time for their ride if proposed changes to the route become reality. There's a push to restore part of the expressway to the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed tree-lined Humboldt Parkway that it used to be before the Kensington Expressway opened in December 1963.

"It was an absolutely lovely neighborhood with a beautiful center median, lovely homes," recalls Kay Adamczak, a former
Buffalo resident who now lives in Clarence. She drives the 33 expressway to downtown every day and says she'd like to see the parkway restored and wouldn't mind the longer commute.

"It's separated people from being able to cross from one side to the other, it's reduced property values, it's created pollution and health issues in that neighborhood," says Justin Booth, Chairman of Buffalo's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board.

The New York State Department of Transportation is studying what to do about the Kensington Expressway. One option is to cover the sunken portion of the road between Delavan Avenue and Best Street to create a tunnel. That plan though is likely too expensive to win approval. "Another option being a boulevard option which would fill in the Kensington Expressway and recreate Olmsted's Humboldt Parkway," says Booth who points out other cities around the country are getting rid of highways in favor of slower-speed boulevards.

That idea though doesn't sit well with some commuters who like being able to get where they're going in a hurry. "I think that would cause more jams, it would cause more traffic jams," says Buffalo resident Gene Robertson.

"It would create more hazards and stuff and Buffalo doesn't need that. That's why the need to keep that the way it is," says Buffalo resident Angel Ridgeway

For now any changes to the Kensington are still in the study phase and any design that is approved would need funding before it could move forward. "I don't think it will ever happen," says Buffalo resident Jonathan Friedman, "I think there's more important needs in Buffalo like the buildings downtown here, and the waterfront that should take priority over a road that would take years to change."

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown supports either the tunnel or the boulevard option for the 33. In a letter to the NYSDOT Brown calls the expressway a "hindrance to the economic development and quality of life of Buffalo's east side".