BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Kensington Expressway was constructed in Buffalo in the 1950s to improve access to the suburbs and airport.
It replaced a Frederick Law Olmsted-designed parkway with a below-grade expressway.
"This community was destroyed as a result of the 33 being put down the middle of a neighborhood where people live," Democratic Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said.
Representatives from the city, state and Congress joined Friday to urge the state Department of Transportation to start work on an environmental impact statement needed to redesign and potentially cover the road. State Senate Transportation Chair Tim Kennedy said it's urgent with the federal government expected to pass a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure funding bill.
"When those resources come here, we have to have shovel-ready projects ready to go. This environmental impact statement is going to allow for this project to be ready to go when that funding ultimately comes to New York state," Kennedy said.
There are several other high-profile proposed projects in Buffalo including the redesign of the connected Scajaquada Expressway and the removal of the Skyway, which U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins and Kennedy had championed as recently as last month.
Kennedy and Mayor Byron Brown said the plan is not to sacrifice one for the other.
"We're going to go for funding for each and every one of them, for every need that we have in this community as it relates to infrastructure," he said.
However, Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes was clear she believes the Kensington project is at the top of the list as it's too long been a socioeconomic and health issue.
"There's not a lot of people who live around Scajaquada and there's not a lot of people who live around the Skyway but there are a ton of people who still live around here and suffer the results from 70,000 cars going by every day," she said.
A recent Buffalo News report indicated the shift to prioritizing the Kensington culminated at a dinner with Democrats from the Western New York state Delegation and the governor on June 1. Those lawmakers have been criticized for meeting privately with the governor who is facing an impeachment investigation but Peoples-Stokes says she will not commit only to meeting with the governor in public.
"Any time the governor has an opportunity to discuss topics of importance to this district and bring resources back home, I'm willing to engage him in that conversation," Peoples-Stokes said.