Businessmen were unanimous in their support Tuesday of a proposal to redefine the traffic pattern on Delaware Avenue in the Village of Kenmore – particularly the inclusion of a turning lane in the heart of the business district.
Several of them stepped to the podium to say so during a public hearing at what turned out to be an unusually long Village Board meeting of a little more than 30 minutes.
“We’re for it,” said Bob Bolt, owner of Mike’s Subs and president of the Kenmore Merchants Association.
The proposal, by the state Department of Transportation, calls for restriping the approximately one-mile stretch on Delaware Avenue in the village to clearly identify two 11-foot travel lanes; a 12-foot, two-way, center turn lane; and two 8-foot parking lanes.
The road, officially known as State Route 384, was designed for one travel lane in each direction within the village, but motorists often travel two abreast in the same direction.
While the DOT has asked the Village Board to adopt a resolution in order for the work to proceed, no action was taken Tuesday night.
“We could do it as early as May,” said Thomas S. Messana, the regional traffic engineer for the DOT. If the change proves troublesome, he said the old pattern could be restored during the resurfacing of Delaware Avenue tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2014.
While the DOT’s traffic model for the proposal takes into account current parking restrictions, Messana said some on-street parking would be lost at both ends of Delaware Avenue to accommodate the transition from two lanes of travel in each direction to one.
At the north end, parking would be eliminated on the west side of Delaware, between Eiseman and North End avenues. To the south, it would be on the east side, between East Hazeltine and Parkwood avenues.
More importantly, “The addition of the center turn lane would allow for left turns at all of the intersections,” said Messana. In addition, vehicles entering Delaware Avenue from side streets could use the turning lanes to enter the flow of traffic, he said.
Mayor Patrick Mang said the inaccessibility of public parking lots behind Delaware Avenue businesses was the reason he contacted the DOT last year.
“It drove me nuts that I couldn’t turn left on Lincoln [Avenue] and use free parking,” he said. Noting the abundance of new businesses opening nearby, he added: “I think this will be a great addition to what has been happening in Kenmore.”
A local civic group has some safety and traffic concerns, however.
“In terms of safety, what is the impact on people opening and shutting car doors?” asked Dean Pavlakis of the Kenmore Village Improvement Society.
Most vehicles are 6 feet wide, Messana responded, adding that people would need to exercise caution when opening their doors into the traffic lane.
Pavlakis also asked about bicycle traffic, which Messana said would have to share the traffic lane with motor vehicles. “Share the road” signs would be installed as part of the plan.
According to Messana, the number of vehicles traveling on Delaware Avenue during peak drive times averages less than 900 an hour. The capacity is between 1,100 and 1,200, he said.