BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Governor Kathy Hochul and local politicians gathered at the Buffalo Museum of Science Saturday afternoon to announce a proposed $3 billion infrastructure plan that includes reconnecting neighborhoods severed by the Kensington Expressway.

Hochul said the New York State Department of Transportation is immediately beginning a federally required environmental review into options that would reconnect and restore Buffalo neighborhoods divided by Route 33. The review explores the environmental, community and economic impacts of fully or partially covering the expressway.

The public will have a chance to give their input this spring and NYS expects a preliminary scoping report to be finished by summer.

The money for the project would come from the governor’s proposed $32.8 billion State Capital Plan. $3 billion is proposed to come out of that pot, paying for statewide infrastructure projects, including the Kensington project.

The state believes this is a once-in-a-generation chance to “reunite communities and right the wrongs of the past” by restoring the once historic tree-lined Humboldt Parkway designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.

“Reconnecting neighborhoods that were severed by asphalt highways is a cornerstone of our bold infrastructure vision for a better New York,” Hochul said. “Better infrastructure means better quality of life, and the communities around the Kensington Expressway in Buffalo and across our state deserve nothing less. These projects will help right the wrongs of the past through safer and reliable transit networks, landscapes designed to bring communities together, and routes that are friendlier for pedestrians and bikers.”     

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz was on hand Saturday and thanked Hochul for her leadership in working to get this project off the ground.

“Repairing the infrastructure mistakes of the past is a big step towards re-connecting communities and improving our overall quality of life,” added Poloncarz. “Governor Hochul’s proposed State Capital Plan will examine the impacts and the future of the Kensington Expressway in Buffalo, seeking a way to restore connectivity to the historic Humboldt Parkway neighborhood, facilitating non-vehicular traffic and bringing people together. I thank Governor Hochul for her vision and willingness to take on these important projects, which hopefully will lead to restoration of communities across our great state.”  

Congressman Brian Higgins said he’s committed to fixing this “historical wrong.”

“It is said that the built environment is not neutral, it either serves to hurt or to heal. Transportation decisions of the past devastated acres of Olmsted parkland and tore apart neighborhoods, said Representative Brian Higgins. “Thanks to the vision and leadership of Governor Kathy Hochul, those days are over. Working together we are committed to meet the moral imperative before us to fix historical wrongs and make the infrastructure investments that serve to unite and strengthen communities.” 

The proposed infrastructure dollars would also benefit projects on the Inner Loop in Rochester, I-81 in Syracuse, Hunts Point Access Project and Cross Bronx Expressway.

Patrick Ryan is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here.