There’s big news for advocates of scaling down our freeways that disrupt the landscape of our city and region. Governor Cuomo has announced that The State is dedicating $112.4 million to four transportation initiatives in the region, each that will have a positive impact on the future of transportation as it relates to livability.
$30 million to convert the Scajaquada Expressway into a low-speed urban boulevard
$6 million for an environmental and design assessment on the Kensington Expressway (a look at covering it)
$22.3 million for the Cars on Main Street initiative
$54.1 million for the Niagara Falls Transportation Authority
$10.5 million for improvements and enhancements to Allegany, Niagara Falls and Midway state parks
“The state is investing heavily in Western New York – taking a new approach to transform this region’s transportation network into a 21st century model for progress, and revitalize our state parks to meet the needs of the next generation,” Governor Cuomo said. “These remarkable investments will leverage the natural beauty of Buffalo, while rethinking travel and restoring the visionary design of our parks and roads that was lost decades ago. By listening to local leaders and hearing from residents, we are reuniting our communities to create a world-class transportation network and parks system deserving of Western New York.”
By listening to local leaders and hearing from residents, we are reuniting our communities to create a world-class transportation network and parks system deserving of Western New York.
The funds for the projects are derived from the New York State Budget, which is allocating significant moneys to transportation planning measures ($55 billion in transportation investments statewide). $27.14 billion of that funding is being earmarked for State Department of Transportation and Thruway programs.
“Governor Cuomo has overseen a historic revitalization in Western New York that is now spreading across Upstate,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “These major infrastructure improvements will further improve the quality of life today and will set the foundation for future economic growth.”
“Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, transportation projects have become about much more than just moving cars,” said New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll. “Projects like these consider all users by connecting communities, redefining neighborhoods, supporting tourism and promoting economic development opportunities.”
Along with other short term traffic calming measures for the Scajaquada Boulevard, Cuomo is directing that merge signs be replaced with stop signs, and electronic speed notification signage will be utilized to send messages concerning updated speed regulations. NYSDOT will be dealing with improving and stabilizing transition zones into Delaware Park, including the addition of rumble strips, narrowing lanes on the east end, and temporary gateway signs. Come 2018, The State will be bringing out the big guns, working towards implementing enhanced, permanent, downgrading boulevard measures that will knit back together the historic fabric of the park (without removing the roadway altogether).
As for the Kensington Expressway (Humboldt Parkway), the funds will be directed towards moving forward with an environmental and design assessment that would see the covering of the expressway, thus bringing back the stabilization of of a scarred neighborhood. The covering of the freeway would bring back the historic elements of the Olmsted designed parkway. This… is… incredible… news!
The funding for the Cars on Main Street initiative would be directed towards infrastructure improvements at “an additional segment of the Main Street Transit Mall in downtown Buffalo.” The segment in question is the section of Main Street that falls between Exchange Street and Scott Street. The project includes:
- Restoring two-way traffic to Lower Main Street
- Replacing dated track bed and rails
- Modifying existing light rail crossover location
- Adding on-street parking
- Reconnecting city streets
- Improving the overall pedestrian experience
- combine with earlier and future project phases until the entire portion of Main Street, from Tupper Street to Scott Street, is converted to multi-modal travel
City of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said: “The continued redevelopment of downtown Main Street, one of my goals since taking office, is an important part of Buffalo’s continuing revival. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s strategic investments in Buffalo, including the Buffalo Billion, are great examples of how we are working together – municipal and state governments –to ensure a stronger city that provides greater opportunities for all its people. I thank Governor Cuomo for his continued commitment to Buffalo and the Cars Sharing Main Street project which will pave the way for an even more vibrant, mixed-use, people-friendly environment that spurs more investment, increased job creation and residential growth.”
Senator Tim Kennedy said: “For more than half a century, residents in Buffalo have been forced to live with the mistake of the Kensington Expressway. It was a decision that not only destroyed the Olmsted vision, but threatened the viability of surrounding neighborhoods, and years later we are left fighting for a way to right this wrong. I’m incredibly grateful to Governor Cuomo and our legislative leaders for dedicating $6 million in funding to further assess potential solutions, and allowing us to move forward in reclaiming the parkway and restoring the neighborhoods to their fullest potential. All of Buffalo owes a debt of gratitude to the ROCC for ensuring this issue has remained at the forefront of the community discussion in our region.”
For more than half a century, residents in Buffalo have been forced to live with the mistake of the Kensington Expressway.
Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes said: “Today, we take the first step in righting a wrong over 50 years old – the Kensington Expressway. The Humboldt Parkway enjoyed a 71 year existence from 1887 until 1958 when construction commenced on the Kensington and Scajaquada Expressways. These infrastructure projects disconnected communities for generations, forever changing their trajectories. Now, is the time to reclaim and restore the former beauty, green space and community that Fredrick Law Olmstead originally envisioned and created. This is the first step to restoring the Humboldt Parkway promenade by covering the environmental assessment along with planning and design costs to make this project shovel ready. I congratulate Restore Our Community Coalition (ROCC) and all of its partners for their collective dedication and persistence; and I applaud and thank Governor Cuomo and Speaker Heastie in supporting the inclusion of $6 million in the FY 16-17 state budget.”
These infrastructure projects disconnected communities for generations, forever changing their trajectories.
Assemblyman Sean Ryan said: “Buffalo’s resurgence over past few years has truly been remarkable. These critical transportation projects will be real game changers for the City of Buffalo and Western New York. Since I was first elected, I have been focused on transforming the Scajaquada Highway into a Boulevard which will restore the character of our great Delaware Park. For years, the public has been pleading for a plan and action. I thank Governor Cuomo for leading on this project, and finally taking action and getting results. With a plan and funding in place, the Scajaquada Boulevard is now a reality, and Buffalo’s future is looking brighter than ever.”
County Executive Mark Poloncarz said: “I thank Governor Cuomo for his commitment to improving Erie County’s road infrastructure and his vision in reconfiguring some of our most historic and well-traveled roadways. With attention to the Kensington, Scajaquada, and Main Street in Buffalo, this $58 million investment covers roads that are used by thousands of motorists every day. The planned improvements will put a dramatic new face on these essential roadways while enhancing safety and creating jobs.”