Cuomo announces sweeping changes to Buffalo infrastructure

Scajaquada Expressway to become an urban boulevard

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Governor Cuomo joined several state and city leaders in Buffalo Wednesday afternoon to talk about undoing urban development projects many feel have changed the character of the city.

“A lot of our urban renewal projects that we did in post World War II, we look back at them now and shake our heads and think what were they thinking,” said Assemblyman Sean Ryan.

One of those projects, was the Scajaquada Expressway, or the 198. The state is putting up $30 million to the have it completely reconstructed.

“It’ll be a low speed urban boulevard with a wide median, it’ll have safer crossing points for pedestrians and cyclists,” Gov. Cuomo said.

After a car struck and killed a Buffalo 3-year-old last May, several short term changes were made along the 198, including guard rails and a lower speed limit.

Since then, lawmakers have been pushing for a permanent fix.

Gov. Cuomo expects a construction contract by 2017.

The Kensington Expressway is also getting an extreme makeover. The state is paying for a $6 million environmental design assessment to see if a covered deck from Best to Ferry Streets would be beneficial for the city.

The covered deck would create a green parkway for residents; when the expressway went in more than half a century ago, it took away much of the green-space of Humboldt Parkway.

The Kensington did bring in some some Hollywood attention to the Queen City this spring with the Ninja Turtles movie, but many residents feel it took away from the look and feel of the city’s east side.

The expressway was built to move traffic in and out of the city faster.

“In the 1950s we had a better idea, but it turned out not to be a better idea,” Gov. Cuomo said.

Also on the docket, $4 million in state money to re-open parts of Main Street in downtown Buffalo to two-way traffic.

“We have been working on undoing a transportation problem in Buffalo for a very long period of time,” said Mayor Byron Brown.

“When the light rail rapid transit was installed on Main Street and essentially killed retail in downtown Buffalo,” he continued.

The Queen City already has more than $18 million in federal funding for the job; this additional boost will bring the project’s budget up to $22.3 million.

The NFTA is also getting a big slice of the pie, with $51.4 million in state funding; that’s about 5 percent more than it received last year.

State parks are also in the mix, with $4.4 million to improve Allegany State Park and help fund the continuation of the Niagara Falls State Park revitalization initiative.

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