Frederick Law Olmsted got it right when he designed Buffalo’s park system. It made Buffalo a city where people wanted to live. Unfortunately, the planners of the 1950s and 1960s got it wrong by only dealing with the cars and destroying the parks; when they cut the Kensington Freeway Canyon through Buffalo’s East Side neighborhoods, a design that intentionally drew traffic from Buffalo’s radial streets and ignored the viability and potential of other modes. Let’s not duplicate this error. Let’s get it right this time around in a way that applies 21st century priorities – tackling climate change, building complete streets and finding multimodal transport solutions, rather than just fixing the mistakes of the past.
We think the New York State Department of Transportation’s Kensington ceiling proposals are too expensive, don’t go far enough to restore the park-like appearance of Humboldt Parkway, do little to heal the community neighbor and do not envisage multimodal transport solutions. We say: (1) restore the Humboldt Parkway as a complete street at surface level, complete with CO2-absorbing trees, and (2) expand the hydroelectric, high-capacity Light Rail Rapid Transit (LRRT) system of Buffalo Metro as the backbone of a larger integrated transportation system.
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According to NYSDOT’s Kensington Expressway Conceptual Design Study, the cost of restoring the Kensington to a surface-level promenade is a small fraction of the cost of capping. Use the saved money to create LRRT extensions.
We believe Buffalo’s radial streets can easily handle most of the displaced traffic with improved frequency and bus service. And when Buffalo’s LRRT is extended, it will reduce overall demand on Buffalo’s roads by providing an attractive, cost-effective, low-emission alternative for commuters and travelers. And those who choose to drive will also benefit from reduced traffic thanks to the contribution of fast, high-capacity LRRT.
Citizens for Regional Transport