BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A little over two weeks ago, plans for the Kensington Expressway project were revealed, and on Wednesday, the public was able to talk with designers and engineers along with getting their voices and concerns heard at the public hearing.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to repair the harms of the past. So many people have called for a full restoration of Humboldt Parkway for 70 years and what we are being given right now is not what we’ve asked for,” said India Walton, a political activist and formal mayoral candidate.

Of the many community concerns proposed, the biggest was finding a better way to use the $1 billion that New York Governor Kathy Hochul set aside for the East Buffalo project — using the funds instead as an economic driver to lift people out of poverty, combat food deserts, and support health and equities for residents in the area.

“Why don’t we look at doing the radial streets into the city and restore the radials?” added East Side Parkways Coalition member Mark Kubinec. “Genesee, Sycamore, Walden, Broadway, William and Clinton. We should put money into the rapid transit from downtown to the airport and restore and fill in the parkway from Martin Luther King Park to Delaware Park.”

The people’s message on Wednesday was clear to everyone involved, prioritize people over traffic.

“It feels like the second objective exists only to limit the primary objective, which is that restorative justice of reuniting the East Side, fixing the environmental health problems, fixing the socio-economic health problems,” continued resident Alok Pinto.

However the overreaching goal of those in favor and working on the project remains the same.

“The Kensington was constructed 50, 60 years ago and that barrier created that separation of the neighborhood. Our intent is to minimize that separation by reconnecting the communities,” said NYS Department of Transportation Chief Engineer Nicolas Choubah.

The public comment period ends on Oct. 27, with a final report and environmental assessment due in December.

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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.