As more and more people and organizations weigh in on the controversial Kensington Expressway project, it is clear that the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) needs to reconsider its out-of-touch plans. One of the most recent advocates, calling for change, is Jalonda Hill, Founder and President, Colored Girls Bike Too. Hill recently voiced her concerns, as follows:
First and foremost, we wholeheartedly applaud the Restore Our Community Coalition for their unwavering commitment, tireless advocacy, and dedicated hard work towards restoring Humboldt Parkway. Their relentless efforts over nearly 20 years have paved the way for the opportunity to revitalize this vital community asset, serving as a powerful catalyst in drawing attention to the significance of rejuvenating this community treasure. The vision and dedication they bring have not only amplified calls for justice in the Black community but also stand as a model for other Black communities nationally harmed by expressways. Beyond Humboldt Parkway, their leadership resonates as an inspiring example of grassroots activism and community-driven change.
While the feedback submission deadline for the Kensington Expressway project has lapsed, our commitment to enhancing community awareness about this issue stands firm. As a Black women-led organization dedicated to promoting mobility justice and deeply embedded in the East side, we strongly believe that fostering awareness and understanding of the systemic injustices affecting Black people is pivotal for instigating systemic change within our communities. In line with this mission, we’ve curated a resource guide for community study. Explore our resource guide here: qrco.de/bdRtgJ
After deep research into the Kensington Expressway project and its processes, we’ve concluded that the project perpetuates the legacy of systemic structural racism and white supremacy culture in how our communities are designed and developed.
The influence of a white supremacy culture is evident in the overarching project framework, which prioritizes cars over the well-being of people and community. This approach overlooks the persistent environmental crises that have adversely affected our community for decades. What’s even more troubling is that if the current project progresses without due consideration of these injustices, there is a significant risk of perpetuating these environmental challenges and neglecting the crucial environmental and racial justice mandates outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLPA”).
Furthermore, the urgency of the project’s timeline disregards the concept of time inequity that impacts the Black community, depriving us of the necessary time to thoroughly explore all aspects of the project, including the 10 design concepts. The rushed timeline has led to an unjust outcome, limiting the community to two design options that may not best serve our interests but instead cater to those with power and privilege, mirroring the construction of the Kensington Expressway in the 1960’s.
Therefore, we demand a reparative and racial justice approach to this project, considering how white supremacy continues to perpetuate itself in the planning and development of Black communities. With that said, we call on New York State Department of Transportation, Governor Kathy Hochul, Senator Tim Kennedy, Majority Leader Crystal People Stokes, and Congressman Brian Higgins to:
- Conduct an environmental impact statement assessing the over 50-year environmental impact of the Kensington Expressway on our community, including statements for the Build alternative, No build alternative, and other dismissed design concept options.
- Redraft the project timeline in the name of racial justice, equity, and community, rather than urgency.
- Have NYSDOT reassess the needs, objectives, and goals of the project rooted in calls for environmental and racial justice, incorporating language supporting a no-pollution approach to restoration.
- Implement an extended timeline for a deeper analysis of the 10 design concepts, redesigned within a framework of equity, racial justice, and environmental justice.
- Prioritize the reduction of environmental harms in “disadvantaged communities” in compliance with the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLPA”).
- Ensure the inclusion of a glossary of terms in the Final Design Report/Environment Assessment, presented in a way that is accessible to the community.
To learn more about the NYSDOT’s lackluster project, click here.