It’s not uncommon to see two vehicles traveling abreast in the same direction on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore.
That’s not supposed to be happening.
Only the center, double yellow line delineates the 50-foot width of Delaware, which was designed for one travel lane in each direction within the village.
“It drives as one very wide lane; people drive it as two lanes,” said Susan S. Surdej, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, which identifies Delaware as state Route 384.
The state wants to restripe the approximately one-mile stretch to clearly identify two, 11-foot travel lanes; a 12-foot center, two-way turn lane; and two 8-foot parking lanes. The proposal needs village approval. A public hearing is tentatively scheduled for the Village Board meeting Dec. 4.
Mayor Patrick Mang wrote to the state earlier this year, seeking a review of traffic conditions for Delaware.
“Over the years,” Mang said Thursday, “I’ve gotten complaints and people inquiring why Delaware is not marked properly. Technically, it’s one lane in each direction.”
Motorists approaching the village from the Town of Tonawanda to the north and the City of Buffalo to the south are driving two abreast, with broken white lines indicating two travel lanes. But that ends at Kenton Road and Kenmore Avenue, respectively.
Once inside village limits, motorists find themselves in uncomfortably close proximity to fellow drivers heading in the same direction.
Among the reasons for the mayor’s letter to the state was the left-turn restriction from northbound Delaware onto Lincoln Boulevard, in the heart of the business district.
“It’s been a big issue for years because we can’t get to our municipal [parking] lot back there,” Mang said. “That kind of renders that lot … inaccessible.”
Village police officials raised their eyebrows this week when Mang read the DOT’s proposal during a board work session.
“As of right now, we are reserving comment on the change until we see a proposed drawing which will better detail the state’s plan,” Assistant Police Chief Peter J. Breitnauer replied, by email, to a request for police comment on the plan.
Asked about challenges posed by the current traffic pattern, he said, in part:
“Delaware Avenue is tight due to the overall width and parking along the curb in certain areas. … Delaware Avenue is busy and as with any heavily traveled street, the traffic flow is slowed, which is not always a bad thing.”
Current regulations that ban weekday parking on the west side of Delaware in the morning and on east side in the afternoon ease rush-hour traffic, according to Breitnauer.
The mayor said he hopes the lane configurations would slow down traffic, so motorists could notice what’s going on in the village as they drive by.
“There’s a whole lot going on in Kenmore right now,” he said.
The village has asked that a DOT representative attend the public hearing on the proposal. If approved, the work would be done during the 2013 construction season, Surdej said.