Historic Humboldt Parkway Reconstruction Concept Study

The New York State Department of Transportation, Region 5, initiated this project at the request of local stakeholders in collaboration with elected officials. The purpose of this project was to examine the feasibility of re-creating a historic parkway with the intent of re-connecting the neighborhoods that were separated by the construction of Route 33 in the 1950s.

The original Humboldt Parkway, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, was a grand, tree-lined boulevard that connected Humboldt Park with Delaware Park in downtown Buffalo. The boulevard served as a focal point for the adjacent neighborhoods, providing a link between local streets, nearby recreational attractions, and cultural and religious institutions. The construction of Route 33 (Kensington Expressway) resulted in the destruction of the historic Olmsted-designed parkway.

As part of a team, C&S examined the feasibility of progressing the project in relation to physical, environmental, and programmatic attributes of the project area. Five alternatives (null alternative plus four build alternatives) were developed to concept level to facilitate an engineering review and analysis appropriate for the level of details at the scoping stage of the project. C&S developed Alternative D, which included the installation of a 3,700-foot complete tunnel section. This alternative, which was developed with extensive 2D and 3D visualization, was the full blown tunnel and parkway recreation alternative, providing the closest design to the original Olmstead Parkway, while maintaining the six-lane highway section within the tunnel underneath the parkway.

C&S developed a completely new highway alignment that would accommodate the required tunnel infrastructure and mechanical needs, performed structural design of the tunnel support walls and arch members, developed a new drainage system, and prepared a proposed landscape design for the newly created, at-grade park. The significant mechanical, electrical, security, ventilation, and lighting needs within the tunnel were fully quantified and specific details were incorporated into the concept design. With the newly created alternative, C&S was able to analyze the anticipated impacts on the adjacent residential properties, the existing drainage conditions, and the Buffalo Science Museum.