One Parkway Now!

One Parkway Now!

The East Side Parkways Coalition (ESP) is a group of Humboldt Parkway Residents and local community advocates who are concerned that the proposed NYSDOT Tunnel for Route 33 in Buffalo does not meet the community’s needs and desires for a healthy environment.

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Acknowledgement and Support for Justice

The East Side Parkways Coalition (ESP) acknowledges and supports the decades of effort and hard work by Restore Our Community Coalition (ROCC) and its leadership to bring New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) to the table to restore the Olmsted Parkway. ROCC has worked diligently to reconnect the community, improve health outcomes for residents, and secure a robust economic future for the East Side.

With all its heart and soul, ESP recognizes the relentless, heroic efforts of ROCC to bring this project to this point. Without these efforts, we would not be able to have this conversation now. Thank you.

Unfortunately, over the past year, NYSDOT has capriciously accelerated into a take-it-or-leave-it “Build Alternative” – a Tunnel that would require 20 feet of additional digging, covered by a replica parkway that stops 2,000-feet short of connecting to the planned restoration of Humboldt Parkway between Agassiz Circle and Delavan.

The NYSDOT Design has two disastrous consequences: 1) The tunnel will cement in place that Delaware Park and Martin Luther King Park (MLK Park) will never be connected by a parkway because extension of a prospective Tunnel would run into the buried Scajaquada Creek; and, 2) Concentrated exhaust plumes will be blown out the tunnel portal ends toward dozens of schools, youth facilities, parks, museums and churches.

As a result of NYSDOT’s plan, both of ROCC’s initial goals of restoring Humboldt Parkway and improving the health of local residents would be made worse by the $1.2 billion investment.

We propose to stand behind and support ROCC and all the local stakeholder groups, to fight for ROCC’s original goals of ending exhaust-related diseases in local neighborhoods and fully restoring the beautiful Humboldt Parkway so it once again connects Delaware and MLK Parks. This long-overdue parkway connection should be made now, with the currently allocated funding.

There is a strategy that can work for everyone in our community: One Parkway Now!

Please review the materials presented here and join our coalition to make the community, and Buffalo a better place for all.

Upcoming Important Dates

A Call to Action!

  • Please review the following sections to become more informed about the outcomes of this project as currently designed. A One Parkway Infill Solution meets the community’s and desires.

A Plan That Works For Everyone: One Parkway Now!

The One Parkway Now! infill approach works with GBNRTC’s Region Central solution to turn Route 33 and the Scajaquada Expressway into a unified, restored Humboldt Parkway connecting Delaware and MLK Parks.

Further, One Parkway Now! proposes the restored Parkway could be extended into the Fruit Belt, reconnecting it via parkway with Delaware Park and the Cultural District including the History Museum, Burchfield-Penney Art Center, and the AKG Art Museum.

Restoring Humboldt Parkway will bring public and private investment to the surrounding neighborhoods, and a community-driven coalition can work to ensure the investment is directed towards housing and small business improvements, lead remediation, tree replanting etc. One Parkway Now, and filling in the 33, is less disruptive to residents, cheaper for the taxpayer, and will bring even more investment to our community by restoring a world class landmark.

Traffic can be absorbed into the existing City radials, including Kensington Avenue, Delavan, Genesee, Walden, and Broadway. These existing radials would only need to take the same average daily traffic (ADT) as Main Street to bring traffic flow on Humboldt down to levels similar to Bidwell, Chapin, or Lincoln Parkways. (See 2022 and 2028 Traffic Drawings) The East Side deserves the same tranquil parkways as enjoyed by West Side residents.

One Parkway Now! proposes to distribute traffic on the existing City radials, which will also feed into Jefferson, Fillmore, and Bailey Avenues, allowing those business districts to grow.

But, let’s be honest, with our warming planet we need to be reducing the number of cars on the road in the long term. Citizens for Regional Transit already has a plan to do so: the Airport Corridor Light Rail Rapid Transit Line from DL&W to Larkinville to the Central Terminal to Airport / I-190 Park & Rides would provide an additional 110,000 capacity, and all the billions of private economic development that would come with that endeavor!!

The community desires to restore Olmsted’s design and to reconnect Delaware and MLK Parks. A One Parkway Infill Solution best achieves these goals. Using $1.1 Billion dollars for a .75 mile tunnel and cap will never allow the parks to be reconnected – ever! NYSDOT acknowledges they can’t push the tunnel further north as Scajaquada Creek is only five feet below the the surface of the expressway.

Problems With The Tunnel Proposed by NYSDOT

  • NYSDOT’s urgency to hurry-up-and-build this ill-conceived tunnel stems from a potential maintenance nightmare of their own making: Existing bridge decks are 20 years past their “expected 40-year service life.” Beam girder ends in the bridges have lost as much as 64% of their cross-sections. (both facts from page 22 of the DDR/EA). Extensive areas of rusted rebar are showing through the concrete retaining walls along most of the depressed expressway. Don’t let NYSDOT rush this once in a lifetime opportunity for East Side residents because of their mistakes.
  • The current NYSDOT proposal keeps the truck and car exhaust flowing into the community like it has for decades, and actually makes conditions worse at each end.
  • A number of schools and community spaces are downwind of the tunnel truck and car exhaust “plumes” (as NYSDOT refers to them – extending 300 meters (985 feet) from the ends of the tunnel). This is unsafe for children at the Hamlin Park School #74, the Boys and Girls Club Masten Club House, and the Charles Drew Science Magnet School. This is unsafe for visitors to the Buffalo Museum of Science and for residents attending events in MLK Park.
  • NYSDOT truck and car exhaust mitigation solution is not adequate:
    • Greenspace and tree-planting to absorb pollutants – while nice, what about in late fall, winter, and spring when trees have no leaves to absorb pollutants? What about the winter when colder air and exhaust stays closer to the ground and doesn’t dissipate?
    • SmogStop Technology – The technology uses a photocatalytic coating to breakdown “NOX (Nitrogen Oxides) and VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) into harmless gases and water, powered purely by sunlight.” That’s great but how much sunlight is in a tunnel?
    • Controlling Dust – The NYSDOT states that: “A washing schedule for the tunnel would be implemented to remove dust, reducing dust resuspension by traffic.” When the NYSDOT was asked about this schedule – their reply was: “once a year”.
  • The NYSDOT’s Draft Environmental Assessment (September 12, 2023) – Appendix D5 “Asbestos-Containing Materials Reports” Page 6 States: “there is approximately 234,486 square feet of inaccessible/assumed ACM (Asbestos Containing Material) associated with the back side of the abutments and retaining walls, counterforts, and top of footer piles throughout the project corridor.” The walls will be taken down and the asbestos will be exposed.
  • The NYSDOT Tunnel will never connect Delaware and MLK Parks. This connection was at the core of Olmsted’s vision and work, and the community’s desire to once again reconnect the parks.
  • There will never be a Phase 2 (Scajaquada Parkway) or connecting the parkways gap – It’s now or never – as NYS will be in a financial deficit starting in 2024 ($9.1 Billion), 2025 ($19.1 Billion), 2026 ($13.4 Billion), equaling $36 BILLION over three years.
  • The NYSDOT Tunnel leaves out the Fruit Belt community.
  • The NYSDOT Tunnel does not support the State’s East Side Avenues Initiative to rebuild the business districts to create generational wealth in the community.
  • The NYSDOT Tunnel will violate the State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) to reduce greenhouse gases (including those created by trucks and car exhaust) by 40% by 2030. The NYSDOT solution states the project will reduce emissions by only 0.04% overall, and particulate (PM2.5) emissions will actually increase by 6% at the Tunnel portal ends.
  • By now, Community Benefit Agreements (CBAs) should have been put on the table to ensure residents were the primary recipients of public and private investment as a result of this project – particularly to combat gentrification and displacement. One Parkway Now! would bring that discussion to the forefront.
  • Due to these observations and concerns, the Community demands an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Review for this project.

A Template to Follow

Rochester’s Inner Loop East – Before the Infill

Rochester Inner Loop East before infill. Source: Reconnect Rochester

Rochester’s Inner Loop East – After the Infill

Rochester’s South Union Street today. $200 Million in infill housing on the trench. Source: Google Maps