Buffalo's Delaware Park. Credit: flickr user efoxsolomon

As populations shrink and our cities reassess themselves, many people are looking at the damage that freeways did to urban life.

Our Dan Bobkoff looked at that discussion in Cleveland a year ago, and now Buffalo is considering the same kind of move for the Kensington Expressway.

According to the Buffalo News, a coalition of businesses, civic institutions, block clubs and neighbors, including the Buffalo Museum of Science, the Wendt Foundation and the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, wants to re-connect the neighborhood to what was once the Humboldt Parkway.

The Parkway was designed by Frederick Law Omstead, the architect of Central Park in New York City and Belle Isle park in Detroit. It connected what was then called The Parade – now called Martin Luther King Park – with The Park, now called Delaware Park.

But the construction of the Kensington in the 1960s caused the destruction of a canopy of tall shade trees that lined the parkway, and sliced through the neighborhood, creating a concrete canyon.

Now, the Reclaiming Our Community Coalition envisions putting a cover over 1.2 miles of the expressway from Best Street to East Ferry Street and then planting a promenade of trees, shrubs and greenery. The tab would be around $465 million.

Members of the group met Thursday to finalize their response to a state Department of Transportation draft design study for the project.

The state study proposes five alternatives for the expressway, including doing nothing, adding new guardrails and paint costing about $2 million, filling in the expressway and creating a boulevard, which would cost $35 million, a partial deck, which would cost about $170 million, or the group’s plan.

What’s going on in your community? Are there any moves afoot to close or replace aging freeways?