City officials are considering building a traffic circle at the intersection of Genesee, Chippewa and Ellicott streets in an effort to make Genesee Street safer for pedestrians.
Other changes could include narrowing a stretch of the street and putting in “bump-outs” to slow traffic.
The discussions are part of an overall effort to enhance the city’s downtown, and particularly the outer “gateway” areas on Genesee, Oak and Elm streets. Those are viewed as the entrances to the city’s core, and officials want to make them more attractive and appealing, while also making downtown more walkable for both residents and workers.
“This is a major gateway into downtown, so not only are we trying to improve it, but we’re trying to make a statement,” said David Stebbins, vice president of the Buffalo Urban Development Corp., who spoke about some of the changes during Wednesday’s monthly board meeting of Buffalo Place, which oversees the downtown business improvement district.
The state has taken steps to “calm” the traffic on the Oak and Elm arterials by narrowing the lanes and adjusting the timing of the traffic lights.
Stebbins said major property owners on Genesee Street near Oak – M&T Bank Corp., Iskalo Development Corp. and Genesee Gateway – “chipped in” money for preliminary design work and have now passed the task off to the city for further preparation, with a goal of being under construction this summer.
In other Buffalo Place matters:
• Pressure is mounting on the city to begin work on the 500 block of Main Street, including Fountain Plaza, to restore two-way car traffic.
If construction work hasn’t started by June 1, the city will lose the $15 million TIGER grant for the project.
• Buffalo Place is now seeking applications for vendors both for the Downtown Country Market and the summer concert series.
• Security concerns are improving downtown, with graffiti, bank robberies and car break-ins on the decline, and overall crime down in certain areas.
Police are still targeting panhandling and vagrancy “in areas we know it’s occurring,” and they’re working to bring down the potential for “intermittent acts of violence” in the Chippewa Entertainment District, said B District Police Chief Brian Patterson.