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Lipstick Applied to Elm-Oak Corridor

New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Commissioner Joan McDonald has announced the completion of a series of safety improvements along the Elm-Oak arterial in downtown Buffalo that will enhance safety for all users of the busy corridor. 

“Governor Andrew Cuomo has directed agencies to improve and streamline our processes.  At NYSDOT, I have launched a new corridor safety planning process,” Commissioner McDonald said.  “We analyzed the Elm-Oak corridor and developed a plan to slow traffic and improve pedestrian safety.  In addition to the improvements that we have made this year, we are working in cooperation with Mayor Byron Brown’s Downtown Infrastructure Task Force to determine additional safety improvements to be completed next year.” 

Pedestrian safety improvements on the Elm-Oak arterial that the Department recently completed include:
• Installation of high visibility crosswalks with sidewalk ramps, pedestrian buttons and countdown timers at high demand  intersections;
• Adjustment of traffic signal timing to calm traffic by controlling speeds through the corridor and shorten cycle lengths to reduce the time pedestrians have to wait to cross the road;
• Addition of on-street parking between North Division and South Division streets; and
• Reduction of the travel lane widths from 12 feet to 11 feet.

The Department is collaborating with the city of Buffalo on a project for next year to further address pedestrian issues on both the Elm-Oak and Church Street corridors.  The project will include sidewalk construction, driveway removals, curb extensions and additional pedestrian signal features.

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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  • Mark_P

    Say it with me DOT…two way streets.

  • irishkwh

    Try and sync a damn light on Delaware PLEASE!!!

  • RoamingBuff

    So, what they are saying is the only 2 streets in Buffalo that ever had nicely syncronized lights don’t have them anymore.. That makes sense. At least its a step towrds uniform disfunction.

  • Jesse

    I drive that corridor in and out every day and I have no idea what you’re on about. They’re still synced quite nicely, thank you.

  • Travelrrr

    This should be two lanes, with a bike lane, bump-outs, etc. THAT is what will slow this thoroughfare down….

  • ELBE01

    Rumble strips are the only thing that will slow traffic coming off the Oak ramp.

  • NorthBuf

    20mph speed bumps would be nice. A couple cracked oil pans and you might start to slow down

  • grad94

    Lipstick Applied to Elm-Oak Corridor
    hilarious headline!

  • Daniel Sack

    Slower = safer.
    Two way. Parking. Bike lanes.
    Of course highway engineers believe cars going faster is best. No matter that faster cars = deadlier accidents. When will we ever learn?

  • Malone_C

    When will some real progressive leadership step in and add skateboard and hipster lanes

  • Rand503

    Highway engineers are all about the cars — allow them to move as quickly as possible and get rid of any obstructions. Pedestrians, bicyclists, storefront businesses, trees, pleasant driving conditions environment — none of these are even in their calculation unless they are forced to through regulations.
    What we need are not highway engineers but urban street planners who will consider the totality of what they are doing so that the entire community benefits, not just cars.

  • whatever

    No, just like it’s good to have some highways, in some cases it’s also good to have a few 1-way non-slowed streets.
    You guys have Ellicott, Washington St, Michigan, Pearl, and Franklin and others that can be the way you want it. Not all taxpayers agree with your preferences, so every downtown street shouldn’t have to be how you want it.

  • Tim

    Are there many accidents on these streets? Have pedestrians been mowed down? I’m not being rhetorical, or smart, just asking. In some instances slower is safer but if there are no accident statistics to back up your claim (there may be), then it is just knee jerk speculation.

  • Jefferson Humboldt

    Honestly, skateboard lanes would have my full approval. Not sure what a hipster lane would involve.

  • Dan

    Those streets look like they could be anywhere in Amherst or Lancaster. Elm and Oak, being part of the Ellicott street grid, need an infusion of urban grit and authenticity. We should return the streets to their authentic pre-1980 condition, with pavement textured not through the same kind of rumble strips or stamping templates, but through the natural freeze-thaw cycle of Buffalo’s four distinct seasons. A lot of old school asphalt plus a little bit of cobblestone and streetcar rail peeking through equals a lot of REAL. We should stop trying to be like fake, plastic cities like Toronto and Charlotte with their trendy “complete streets” and smooth pavement. Buffalo is authentic, real, and genuine, and deserves nothing short of classic urban streets of the kind your grandfather used to drive to work at Bethlehem Steel in his ’68 Oldsmobile Cutlass.
    Also, we need to connect Elm and Oak with light rail to Central Terminal.

  • Malone_C

    [deleted- off topic]

  • laldm

    Two obvious things that would fix this corridor:
    De-sync the lights
    No right turns on red
    Yes, I know I will get massively down-voted for typing that given the massively car-centric mindset of Buffalonians.
    The only one of the *actual* things they are planning to do that will have any impact is the narrowing of the traffic lanes and it won’t do much.

  • grad94

    ok, got it. concern for authenticity is laughable. what, no brush script in the picture to snipe about?

  • Rand503

    I won’t ask you to explain your insults regarding “cross gender slackers” whatever that means, but please do back up your assertions that anyone here has proposed anything that would curb capitalism.

  • paulsobo

    There is no such possible improvement to the Elm-Oak Corridor.
    The only possible improvement would be to replace the Elm-Oak Corridor with Jefferson Ave to Hamburg as a I-90 to Kensington connector.

  • Jefferson Humboldt

    The speed limit is 30. Ticket the HELL out of people who drive excessively fast, and double the fines each time the same driver gets a ticket. They’ll slow down pretty soon.
    And please, don’t make the South end of Jefferson an expressway junction.

  • ivan putski jr

    Sounds like you and your pleated khakis prefer your coffee from McCafe instead of where those pretentious rolled up dungaree wearing , twerps work

  • paulsobo

    Traffic and parking tickets only discurage people from patronizing downtown businesses, only discourage businesses from locating their jobs downtown and continue unpleasant negative stereotypes. Why venture into the city when the suburbs have free parking, ease and convenience. THATS NOT THE SOLUTION.
    For the city to improve downtown must grow east and south. The highway access ramps need to move further away from center city so that can happen.

  • Publius

    Parking tickets and traffic do not keep people away from downtown. There is not a successful city in the world without traffic congestion or regulated on-street parking.
    A great downtown will draw people and business regardless of traffic and parking regulations. We have to invest in the factors that make downtown great – walkability, transit access, historic preservation, cultural offerings, cool living spaces, etc.

  • grad94

    amen. if the huge volume of traffic on the elm/oak arterial is such a great opportunity for downtown, how come neither street is lined with retail?

  • grad94

    that kind of thinking is gospel truth for people of carl paladino’s age. but his cohort is about to age out of driving altogether and will need either on-call chauffeurs or compact, mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods if they want to preserve their independence.
    meanwhile, the next generation thinks that cars are uncool. they’d rather have places to recharge their gadgets and lock their bikes.
    long story short, you are witnessing the end of the automotive regime. the car doesn’t have to make all of our city planning decisions any more.

  • Up and coming

    The number of motor vehicles has been rising by an estimated 3.69 million each year since 1960 with the largest annual growth between 1998 and 1999 as well as between 2000 and 2001 when the number of motor vehicles in the United States increased by eight million. So, I don’t believe your assertion is correct, when you say the auto regime is coming to an end.

  • Dan

    > Not sure what a hipster lane would involve.
    They would have been painted in the summer, before it was cool.

  • paulsobo

    What Grad94 means is that with Buffalo’s declining population and povery and lack of jobs resulting from high tax burocratic NYS (and what few jobs are created are corrupted by politics, patronage and unions)…all the next generation of Buffalonians can afford is a bike and their parents spare room.
    Everywhere there is population growth…there are more cars on the road and more mass transit planned to mitigate the number of cars.
    On one hand Grad94 agrees thatparking tickets downtown are not a nuisance / hindrance to attracting people to downtown then she says that if the traffic was so great Elm-Oak would have retail. These points dont seem to agree with one another.
    -Replace Elm-Oak Corridor with Jefferson/Hamburg to connect the Kensington to I-90.
    -Downgrade the Kensington after Jefferson to Humboldt Parkway entrance to the City.
    -Make Jefferson/Best the eastern entrance to the Life Sciences Campus (push the growth to the east).
    -Convert Elm-Oak to a beautiful Olmsted Parkway or Boulevard.
    These things will bring growth of downtown eastward…and a larger downtown with healthy surrounding inner city neighborhoods will bring the walkability, retail and mass transit so many desire.

  • Up and coming

    “Convert Elm-Oak to a beautiful Olmsted Parkway or Boulevard.”
    I like the above idea, the rest is just soapbox rhetoric.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    I worked in the area in the late 1970’s when much of the Elm/Oak area was still intact. The corridor was lined with mainly brick house and buildings that were being cleared at the time. Most were 2 or 3 stories and in decent condition, many housed small business establishments. There were quite a number of Greek Revival structures that dated to the 1840’s including a beautiful block of rowhouses on Eagle St between Elm and Oak. The rowhouse was simuilar to those in Savannah Georgia and included curved cast iron stairways to access the raised first story. There were also some old Greek Revival mansions that stood on South Division St. and on Swan St. By 1978 the area was pretty much decimated and the last few holdouts moved on. I think the plan was to clear a buffer zone to the near east side, at that time the area from Michigan Avenue to Jefferson Ave was densely populated and seen as a rough neighborhood.

  • grad94

    in ny state, vehicle miles traveled peaked in 2005 and has been declining ever since.

  • Chris

    Why not just make parking on both sides of the street? Increased revenue.

  • JM

    Little off topic but you made me think of an old pic I have of my grandfather who grew up right there on Division Kind of gives an idea how dense the neighborhood was, especially compared to now.

  • Dan

    The Elm-Oak Corridor was cleared to provide a path for the Kensington Expressway to connect to the Elm/Oak exit of the 190.

  • __|bflo|__

    No, they are still timed, but the way they were set up before allowed you to drive >50mph and make all the lights green and never have to slow down. This really makes it dangerous for pedestrians. Now you have to go about 25-30mph to not have to stop at a red light. I was annoyed at 1st, but now I’m used to it and really it makes way more sense.

  • paulsobo

    Of course traffic mileage has been declining…THERE ARE LESS PEOPLE AND LESS JOBS
    We have been hemmoraging people and jobs since the 1940s.

  • New2Buffalo

    Up and Coming, you cited statistics from 2001 which was over 10 years ago. Meanwhile BACK TO THE FUTURE aka NOW aka almost 2013 I know a lot of gen-y(including myself) that don’t give a flying bison about cars. They are just another form of transportation. No longer are they a status symbol or a necessity for every single American but rather they are actually completely lame for polluting the environment(something our generation cares about even more so than those in the past) and lame for sucking gas/repair money out of our pockets. A lot of my married friends have sold off one of their cars or just didn’t buy a new one when their old one kicked the bucket. They are now biking, carpooling, or busing to work by choice and not because they can’t afford to buy a car. I think having one car in the family is currently needed in most cases where we aren’t in an NYC type setting and if that is the mindset of Gen Y now I can’t imagine Gen Z will be reversing the trend.

  • grad94

    thank you for making my point. it’s time for a road diet.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    That’s correct, the plan also included the West Side Connector at the Virginia St exit of the 190. The wide median that still exists at Niagara and Virginia was meant to continue through the heart of the lower west side following Virginia St east to West Tupper and then connecting with the 33. That plan destabilized the old Italian neighborhood with many long time residents leaving the area. Those that stayed defered maintenance in anticipation of being bought out and the neighborhood declined quickly.
    These highways had great negative financial and societal impact including scattered collateral damage that is difficult to estimate. The 190 that severed my neighborhoods historic connection to the river, the 198 rammed through Delaware Park and the 33 bisecting the east side are all examples. It is impossible to quanify the real cost, most of it was born by those displaced. The steady decline of value and quality of life that followed continues to limit present and future investment.
    Buffalo is much less densely populated than it was when I grew up in the 1960’s. We have more highway than we need and should look harder at removing some sections. This requires encouraging traffic back onto our historic street grid while discouraging through traffic using our city as a shortcut to places beyond. At the very least we should downgrade some sections to more neighborhood friendly speeds, landscape, and design.

  • Black Rock Lifer

    Do you know the address or block this was on?

  • JM

    596 N. Division, it was on the other side of Jefferson than you mentioned but just by a block. My Great Grandfather worked on the trains loading coal.

  • grad94

    just one more. americans really are driving less. it isn’t just a poverty thing.

  • Up and coming

    The article was from 2011. It said the largest boom was from between 98-99 and 00-01 and that each year we’ve grown on an average of over 3 million. So put that in your skinny jeans and smoke it.

  • Up and coming

    The price of gas has quadrupled since 2005, so it’s no surprise that people are driving less miles, which doesn’t prove your point the least bit. Also, just because people are driving less miles per year, that doesn’t mean the average American is substituting those miles with public transportation, or bike riding. Their simply making less trips, or shorter trips because it’s so expensive. Also, in earth shattering news, don’t eat yellow snow.