BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — People living near the Kensington Expressway are asking New York state to delay progress on the billion-dollar plan to transform the 33 and correct decades of wrongs on the city’s East Side.

That includes the “East Side Parkways Coalition” (ESPC) who held a press conference Wednesday at the Delevan Grider Community Center.

The New York State Department of transportation extended the comment period late last month for the Kensington Expressway Project. With a new deadline to submit comments ending on Friday, Nov. 10, allowing the coalition more time to educate neighbors and organizing opposition to the current plan.

“Yes, there is an option on the table and it’s a hard question to look at yourself in the mirror and say, is this better than nothing? Still, I have concerns about how $1 billion of our money is being spent,” said East Side Parkways Coalition member Michael Gainer.

The concerns from neighbors were loud and clear at the ESPC community teach-in, calling on the governor and DOT to pump the brakes on the project.

Residents shared their worries of air quality, connectivity between Martin Luther King and Delaware parks, and the lack of businesses and storefronts throughout the East Side.

“One of the things we looked at was the EPA’s environmental Justice tool. Low life expectancy in the neighborhoods adjacent to 33 is in the 95th to 100th percentile nationwide. You can see also asthma rates are in the 95th to 100th percentile in the United States,” stated University at Buffalo architecture professor Brad Wales.

Another vocal point of the meeting was to express to state officials that residents aren’t opposed to a project, they are only opposed to this proposed plan.

Still Governor Kathy Hochul and the DOT say it’s the tunnel or nothing at this point, not guaranteeing Kensington funding will stay in Buffalo if public opinion continues to shift.

“Buffalo needs that money. So, we need to understand this project and how can we come together to talk to the governor and the D.O.T. To keep that money and let’s utilize it the way Buffalo needs it,” concluded Founder at Jes Breathe Cancer Awareness Group, Gina Davis.

To submit comments to the New York Department of Transportation, click here.

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Dillon Morello is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has been part of the News 4 team since September of 2023. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.