BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Reconnecting and restoring neighborhoods across the Kensington Expressway is getting closer to becoming a reality.
Governor Kathy Hochul made the commitment in her State of the State address earlier this month.
But over the weekend she appeared in Buffalo to announce the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is beginning an immediate environmental review.
More than six decades ago the the Kensington was built and it decimated the beautiful Humboldt Parkway neighborhood in the city of Buffalo.
Many say it unjustly divided a neighborhood and created poverty, all to transport thousands of vehicles each day from the suburbs to downtown Buffalo.
“When Woodlawn was cut off, and it didn't have the ability to go from Jefferson, which is a commercial strip that got decimated, to Fillmore which is a commercial strip — that got decimated. Glenwood was cut off — all of these things not only destroyed peoples lives, but it destroyed the economy of the east side of Buffalo,” remarked Crystal Peoples-Stokes, NYS Assemblywoman, Majority leader.
Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes joined Governor Hochul and other local leaders Saturday to announce the launch of an environmental review to explore how to reconnect and restore city neighborhoods divided by the expressway.
This review will examine how to partially cover a section of the Expressway. Funding would come from the governor's proposed state budget.
“Words cannot express really how excited I am, as well as the community, with hearing that we are in some type of actionable state,” declared Ulysees Wingo, Masten District common council member.
Council member Wingo says he is thrilled there is a finally chance to restore a section of his district that was “bisected”.
But Wingo tells me he is concerned about how the project could effect the foundation of those homes along Humboldt.
“We have to use earth moving machines and we anticipate that's going to happen, but have to use earth moving machines instead of dynamite like they did when they dug this thing out to actually move the 33 back and scale it so it can be reconstructed to reunite the Humboldt Parkway,” Wingo explained.
Wingo says he is also concerned with the ingress and egress for residents.
Demetrius Sanders lives on Humboldt and says he looks forward to the day he can head out of his home without being divided by a huge highway.
We caught up with Sanders as he was walking his puppy Monday.
"I'll have a place to walk my dog. I won't have to go all the way around the corner,” Sanders replied. "I'll have parks and stuff for my nieces and my nephews, so it will be cool for me."
Sanders says it would be nice to end the loud traffic noise, especially at night.
“When it comes to noise — oh, Jesus — I could talk about that all day. You'll think something is wrong — bad crashes — all of that,” responded Sanders.
Sanders also noted that he and many of his neighbors will be happy when they can actually cross over a parkway to get to the other side of the street instead of having to walk to around to overpass bridges that break up their neighborhood.
The public will have a chance to weigh in on this project. The state says it expects to have a scooping report ready by this summer.