Not within recent memory have the east and westbound lanes of Kenmore Avenue been simultaneously in pristine shape. But now Erie County and the City of Buffalo are pursuing a smooth path to fixing the bumpy route, which is shared by the two municipalities.
It is called taking a collaborative approach to repairing a shared asset. Officials from the city and county Wednesday met, symbolically, midway along Kenmore Avenue, at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, to explain the innovation.
“We’re here to emphasize today what can happen when people work together,” said County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, who was joined by Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown and County Legislator Lynn Marinelli, in whose legislative district Kenmore Avenue lies.
The eastbound lane of Kenmore Avenue is owned by the city, while the westbound lane belongs to the county. Historically, both municipalities have taken responsibility for repairing their respective sides of the road, and not often – if ever – at the same time. So at any given time, one side of the road is smooth, while the other is a mass of cracks and potholes with manhole covers that are not flush with the asphalt surface.
That will no longer be the case once all the work is completed in 2015.
“The bumpy surface that you see now will be smooth for the more than 16,000 vehicles that travel down Kenmore Avenue every single day,” Brown said.
Under the terms of an inter-municipal agreement, starting in September, Erie County will begin road resurfacing of both the county and city sides of Kenmore Avenue from Fairfield Avenue to Colvin Boulevard, a distance of just over a mile. About a year from now, city crews will perform the same work on a mile-long section of the road between Colvin Boulevard and Elmwood Avenue. Then, in the summer of 2015, both the city and the county together will, with funds from the federal government, pursue the rehabilitation of just under a mile of Kenmore Avenue from Fairfield Avenue to Main Street.
“It’s a little more than three miles of roadway that we’re going to be addressing, but we’re doing what hasn’t been done in many years,” Poloncarz said.
According to Marinelli, it has been more than a decade since any major resurfacing work has been done on either side of the street.
“When I was first elected and took office in 1997, it was then-County Executive (Dennis) Gorski and then-Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello who did repairs to a portion of Kenmore Avenue,” Marinelli said.
The city plans to spend about $500,000 for its share of the resurfacing project, while the county will commit about $557,000 to the two-year project, which also will include the lowering of the railroad track grade between Fairfield Avenu@e and Main Street. The entire project, including federal funds, will cost about $5 million.
“It’s this kind of collaboration that’s transforming Buffalo and Western New York,” said Brown.
“The only way we’re going to accomplish many of the things that we want to do in the city and the county government is by working together through partnerships,” added Poloncarz.