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State DOT shows off plans to cover the Kensington Expressway

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Mike Desmond/WBFO
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For years, the Restore Our Community Coalition has pushed the idea of roofing over much of the Kensington Expressway and using that roof to restore many of the communities along the 33. Last night, State Department of Transportation showed off several plans which could bring the concept into reality.

"We are talking about restoring the park to the Olmsted vision, cleaning up emissions in the air, bringing some economic development to the community," said Stephanie Barber Geter, one of the community leaders who attended Wednesday's public meeting at the Buffalo Science Museum.

"This big hole in the middle of the city is important to all of us. There is no quick fix."

The favored plan would cost around $300 million and tie together the communities sundered when the road was built.

Also in attendance were Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Senate Transportation Chair Tim Kennedy. Both believe the funding is available.

"If you just think about the rising economy of Buffalo and Western New York, psychologically, if we can't reconnect this community, all of our rise in our community will fall back down at some point," Peoples-Stokes said.

"You have to bring everybody up or none of us are going anywhere."

The project is much more than just the roof because the towering walls flanking the highway are in desperate need of repair and replacement because they might fail. The new walls would support the roof.

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Credit Mike Desmond/WBFO
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Rendering of plan for the future of the Kensington Expressway.

A more elaborate plan that would cost considerably more looks to deepen the road trench for a more elaborate roof. It would also require a ventilation building with a 70-foot high chimney to carry the vehicle exhaust away.

Community leader Charlene Miller gave the plan a mixed review.

"I like the trees but I do not like the stack (the ventilation chimney) in the middle of my neighborhood," Miller said.

"We have enough health problems. We don't need any more."

 

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.