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Letter: Fill Kensington gorge and extend Metro Rail

Fill Kensington gorge and extend Metro Rail

The governor’s announcement of a study for returning Kensington Expressway to a tree-lined parkway is welcome news. The Kensington was cut through Buffalo neighborhoods, destroying one of Olmsted’s most beautiful parkways. It needs to be undone. But the solution should address the core cause of the problem: the requirement to deliver 70,000 cars through the East Side every day.

The solution most prominently mentioned is to cover a portion of the expressway at an estimated cost of over $500 million. This very expensive solution will not address the core problem. The East Side will continue to suffer pollution from 70,000 vehicles each day. The governor’s study needs to evaluate solutions that also reduce the traffic demand.

Rochester’s experience with its Kensington-like Inner Loop suggests that the Kensington gorge could be filled in for a small fraction of the cost of covering. A portion of the money saved would be sufficient for extending Buffalo’s Metro Rail to the airport and a park-and-ride near Transit Road. A redesigned, at-grade, low-speed Humboldt Parkway, like the newly envisioned Scajaquada, could replace the current Kensington gorge. Underutilized arterials like Broadway and Genesee could supplement the new at-grade Humboldt while restoring traffic to East Side businesses. The Metro Rail extension would significantly reduce overall traffic demand.

This is a win-win solution. The Humboldt Parkway is restored and the Metro Rail is extended to the airport. It’s a solution that addresses the core problem of traffic demand and needs to be evaluated by the study.

Douglas Funke

President, Citizens for Regional Transit