The Boulevard Option - Fixing the Kensington - Part III

Demone Smith, Masten District Councilmember, introduced a resolution (.pdf) yesterday urging NYSDOT to study a third option - the Boulevard Option - as New York State prepares a $2 million feasibility study to fix the Kensington. Currently two options are on the table, each involving placing a "cap" over the Kensington over a one-mile stretch between East Delavan and Best streets. These two options would cost between $350-$500 million. The Boulevard Option, which would fill the entire highway and restore Humboldt Parkway as a multiway boulevard, would likely cost much less.
Demone Smith's resolution calls on NYSDOT to put all feasible options on the table in its "Study to Cover Portions of Rt. 33," including the Boulevard Option. WKBW is running with the story.
This afternoon I caught up with Demone and discussed the importance of his resolution and the new Boulevard Option. Here's the podcast.
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Paul said...

I think taming the trench by making it a boulevard is the best choice, but the price tag seems low. However, even at that cost, how can the State afford it?

If Buffalo were to choose the cap option, it would not be the only city trying to do so. Downtown Los Angeles is exploring the idea, too, as a means of revitalization.


Anonymous said...

$350-$500 million? To what end? It won't revitalize neighborhoods and while there may be a little economic stimulus from what jobs will be created, this project is a flagrant squandering of scarce resources.

Anonymous said...

i vote boulevard.

olcott_beach said...

"...and build they did, most famously in the case of the Kensington Expressway, the new link between downtown and the Buffalo International Airport. The original engineering report in 1953 promised that sensitivity would be the watchword for the Kensington: "If this project is to be an asset to the city and surrounding area, it must be designed in a manner that will increase the real values of the immediate neighborhood."

The reality was considerably different. Planners took direct aim on Humboldt Parkway, a graceful, tree-lined thoroughfare that flowed nearly three miles from Humboldt Park to Delaware Park. It would be a simple matter, they reasoned, to build the Kensington right up the middle of the parkway, linking with the Scajaquada Expressway.

Mayor Steven Pankow had no objections. "Never has Buffalo been offered so much for so little," he said, hinting at the copious funding available from the state.

Robert Coles, then a young architect who lived on Humboldt Parkway, was among the few who knew what lay ahead, thanks to an early peek at the expressway plans. A platoon of tree cutters and bulldozers would be deployed to clear the proposed route, followed by a battalion of excavators to a dig a giant channel right down the middle of the parkway.

"I knew it was coming, and I tried to organize my neighbors against it," Coles says. "I even had a tape measure that I'd take out, and I'd say, 'You're going to lose this much of your property.' They didn't believe it. It wasn't until they were cutting the trees down on the next block that they said, 'It's for real.' Too late. It cut the neighborhood in half."

1962 said...

I love comments like 'Anonymous 10:05am'. The bankers run off with billions of our dollars while the SEC surfs porn. Bush, Obama, et al take Big Oil money and then give corporate welfare to BP. (story unfolding). Yet '$500 million' is a 'flagrant squandering'? Every time **our** dollars are applied to projects for the public good, 'Anonymous' comes out of the woodwork and cries about waste. Yet notice that 'Anonymous' never offers up solutions or contributes progressively to a conversation. I wonder how 'Anonymous' feels about Goldman execs and their $500 million dollar bonuses? (post economic meltdown). The boulevard option for the 33 is a valid initiative that is an attempt to right the lack of foresight and poor choices of Buffalo's past. Cities all across the country are re-envisioning their grids (see NYC's plans for 34th Street here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/23/nyregion/23street.html ) It's already been proven in Boston: despite the overages on the 'Big Dig' the city is more unified and conducive to pedestrian traffic, etc. etc. My suggestion to Anonymous 10:05am: go complain about 'waste' somewhere else (Fox TV blog?) and offer up something that contributes intelligently to this conversation.The Tea-Party line is boring already.

Anonymous said...

1962: You cite some obvious affronts which I also find repellent. Because they occurred doesn't warrant investing public $$ which will not bring back the glory of the pre-Kensington days to the neighborhood. I maintain dropping that type of investment at this point in our history is ludicrous. Buffalo's not Boston, we've lost 300,000 residents since 1950 which means we have less $$ to go around for transportation projects.
Finally. you point to my lack of a "solution." Seeing that you feel so strong about this project, why don't you get out there in the morning with a shovel?

Anonymous said...

This entire discussion is ridiculous - yea, let's bury the Kensington, make the Scajaquada a country road, remove the 190 along the river, and make Route 5 a boulevard - THAT'LL HELP THE CITY THRIVE! (NOT!)

Max said...

The NYS budget is $9B in the hole. They're furloughing 100,000 state employees for 1 unpaid day @ week and there's talk of teacher layoffs next year when the Federal stimulus finds abate. How does this play in Buffalo?
We're contemplating spending upwards of $500 million for cosmetic surgery on an ugly, yet functional thoroughfare which still has a lengthy useful life. That's sheer idiocy.
Why not invest in expansion of Metro Rail to the Harbor or to the Airport instead? That would benefit a far greater number than the few "illusionists" who want to pursue this folly.

Douglas A. Willinger said...

It is telling that the elites are now funding yet another initiative to dumb down our infrastructure and 're-create' a parkway with all of the corridor's traffic.

The lower it by 4 feet and cover it option with parkway and linear park on the surface is the only worthwhile one here.

1962 gets it right about how even good infrastructure matters so little then all of the Wall Street bloat- last year's bonus were way more then what Westway would cost.

NMG is a public DID-service.

Douglas A. Willinger said...

DIS-Service is what I typed.