Pete Buttigieg visits Buffalo with federal funding for Kensington Expressway project

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was in Buffalo Friday, joined alongside federal, state and local lawmakers, to see firsthand what the future holds for the Kensington Expressway.

For more than half a century, residents on Buffalo’s East Side have lived in a neighborhood divided by concrete.

“We’re not waiting another year to correct an injustice that has plagued this city for far too many years,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The federal program called Reconnecting Communities reconstructs highways created in the 1950s and 60s, Route 33 being one of them.

“Look how beautiful Humboldt Parkway was historically. It was stunning,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. “It was a glorious community where families could communicate to their neighbors, walk across the street. You look today and it’s divided by the highway.”

The City of Buffalo received $55 million as part of the Reconnecting Communities program.

“Just as this problem played out over years, we know it has taken years to get to this point,” Buttigieg said. “Now we need to see this through.”

Back in May, state leaders announced $1 billion will go toward this project. The massive makeover will replace the expressway with a six-lane tunnel going from under Dodge Street to Sydney Street. On top, Humboldt Parkway will be transformed as a space for drivers and pedestrians, the streets lined with trees, gardens and benches.

Officials are calling it the largest infrastructure project in Western New York history, and one of the biggest happening across the country.

“The solution is different in different places,” Buttigieg said. “In this case, it is very clear that the right solution is the one that the community has been working so hard to coalesce around. And it’s that community vision, coupled with a forward-thinking State Department of Transportation, strong congressional involvement and local leadership, that has demonstrated to us, even in this very competitive process, that this project deserves funding.”

Lawmakers say they expect shovels in the ground for this project within the year. Local hiring will be mandated, creating hundreds of jobs here in Western New York.

Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here and follow her on Twitter.

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