Bury this Big Mistake - Fixing the Kensington Part II

This week's Artvoice cover story - Bury this Big Mistake - is required reading for City residents, ex-pats and policy makers.


From Geoff Kelly's cover story:
The $45 million Kensington Expressway tore up Frederick Law Olmsted’s tree-lined Humboldt Parkway, claimed hundreds of homes in previously stable neighborhoods, ripped a trench in the ground that separated the city from itself, and diverted automobile traffic from the East Side’s once-thriving business strips to a limited-access expressway that shuttled commuters from downtown Buffalo to the northern suburbs in about 10 minutes on a clear day.
Making the city a backyard to its suburbs. Depressing property values. Starving small businesses on Jefferson and Fillmore of customers and abetting the evisceration of those business districts. Subjecting two generations of residents surrounding the expressway to air and noise pollution. Job well done. read the rest...
Last week's post - Fixing the Kensington - Part I - contains background material and the New Millennium Group's position paper on the current status of the feasibility study. The City's Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Board has issued the following statement (.pdf) regarding the same Kensington study.

Please note - In the interest of full disclosure, Masten District Council Member Demone Smith has nominated me and I have accepted a position to serve on the City's Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Board.
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olcott_beach said...

Approximately five-years ago Business First featured an article about the Kensington Expressway and the original Humboldt Parkway.

As I am not from Buffalo nor was I even alive during the construction period, I was unaware of the areas original street grid.

The vintage photographs of the Humboldt Parkway revealed a dual carriageway with a center meridian that was intended to be used for equestrian purposes. The photos showed fully matured trees within this area and it was quite attractive.

I had always assumed that the area had been a neighborhood but it was, in fact, already a roadway so the article really just confused me even further as to the reasons for implementing such a project in the first place.

It was indicated that the expressway was nothing more than a thoroughfare for access to the airport.

My own experience was when I visited the Buffalo Science Museum this past summer for the Body Worlds Exhibit and I could not believe the volume of traffic noise emanating from the expressway – how the hell do the residents tolerate such a cacophony?

Also, as an appreciator of architecture; it is a tragedy to see these once gracious homes, along the perimeter of this scare, falling into disrepair or, should I say: deferred maintenance.

Rod McCallum said...

As long as we're dreaming, they need to consider the 8 lane parkway with a subway line under the center lanes that terminates at the airport. Go big or go home, right?

Peace from the east.

Joe the Planner said...

Check out these short videos from Streetfilms on this very topic:

Lessons from San Francisco:

Lessons from Portland:

Anonymous said...

blah blah blah - same old tired arguments. it doesn't matter how awesome it would be, the reality is it's too late to make changes of this magnitude. I won't get into a back and forth debate since you boulevard folks are singular in your vision; however, 3/4 of the people in the area live in the 'burbs - that's not going to change. Your efforts will further the death of the core. You don't like it, I don't like it - but that's our sad reality. You new urbanists need to regroup and focus on the "doable" and quit pursuing these grandiose change the world ideas. Use your strengths to do real and tangible things - making noise, writing on the web and shouting don't make history. You won't accept this, but you haven't made much of a difference in most issues you fight - so pick some smaller winnable items and build from there.

Library Diva said...

The Humboldt Parkway debacle is exactly why I'm so opposed to the current Peace Bridge expansion project. The people who say it sucks down there anyway have clearly never walked it.

I think it's too late, sadly, to undo the damage done by the 33. What it destroyed was not just a built environment but a neighborhood, with all the intangibles that implied. The people who lived there are more than likely gone, and the businesses that serviced them not even a memory. The state of this area depresses the absolute hell out of me. I sincerely want to do something to help, but I don't know what I can do.

Jafafa Hots said...

San Francisco is a city that has a larger population than Buffalo.

It's also a city surrounded by a metropolitan area that is growing and has been for decades. Whereas Buffalo is shrinking.

There was one similarity - Like Buffalo, San Francisco had an expressway tearing the heart of the city, in this case from its waterfront.

After the '89 quake damaged it, SF decided to tear the damned thing down.
The result has been a renaissance, a resurgence of what had been a scary run down part of town into a tourist mecca.

If SF can tear down a freeway designed decades ago for a city that was then much SMALLER than it currently is and be better off for it, then certainly Buffalo can get rid of an expressway designed for a city much LARGER than it is and do well.

SF has probably 100 times the commuter traffic of Buffalo, if not more.

The idea that Buffalo, a city of 250k and dropping, can't get along without an expressway system designed for a city of 500k is simply idiotic.

Buffalo needs the Kensington the same way a lung cancer patient needs cigarettes.

Dan said...

Dig up a parkway, blast out a ditch, and build a road in it? That's impossible! It's too late to tear out Humboldt Parkway and make changes of this magnitude. You Expressway Folks are too singular in your vision, and that's the sad reality.

You new Car-Culture people need to regroup and focus on the "do-able". Humboldt was built over 50 years ago; no grandiose, 'change the world' ideas will ever remove it.

Once something is built, it's there FOREVER, right?? We are powerless to change anything.

- signed, A Voice From 1950.

Greg said...

I'd rather see it raised to elevation and be a 6 lane highway with a median in the middle. And on each side of the 6 lane highway, place medians separated for bicyclists and neighborhood car traffic.

And if you wanna throw a subway in for kicks, i'd rather opt for a Rapid Bus Transit system running up and down Genesee Street and raising the speed limit on Genesee Street to 40mph.

Christina Schultz said...

@greg I think thats stupid