Downtown Buffalo's Chippewa Street will carry two-way traffic by the end of the year under a plan being promoted by Mayor Masiello's administration.
Daniel S. Bicz, city community development commissioner, confirmed Wednesday the administration proposes spending up to $125,000 for traffic signal equipment, sidewalk repair and landscaping to convert the street from one-way to two-way travel.
The change will affect traffic for the entire seven-block stretch of Chippewa, from the intersection of Georgia Street and Whitney Place at the west end, to Ellicott Street on the east end.
The goal is to increase access to what has blossomed into an active corridor for dining and entertainment, according to Bicz.
"All the one-way streets downtown were designed to get people in and out as quickly as possible," he said. "Our objective with Chippewa is to create a local traffic pattern that allows people to pass through and linger if they want."
The Theater District Strike Force, a group that issued a report last October on ways to improve the downtown climate, strongly suggested two-way travel on Chippewa, Huron and Tupper streets as a way to improve access.
Chippewa, once known as a haven for vice, is evolving into a strip of trendy eateries and nightclubs, drawing a post-theater crowd and 20-something patrons who are discovering downtown for the first time.
Bicz said the city initially developed a plan that would have included widening Chippewa Street to enhance both traffic and parking access. But the $1.6 million price proved to be way out of reach. A scaled-down $500,000 version of the plan experienced the same fate, with city planners settling on what Bicz terms "the bare essentials" to create a two-way corridor.
About $100,000 of the project will go for installing new pole-mounted signals to regulate eastbound drivers. Existing overhead lights will be modified to handle traffic coming both ways.
The roadway also will be re-striped and new signs will be posted to accommodate two-way travel.
Another $25,000 will be dedicated to minor sidewalk improvements, a new wrought-iron railing for the surface parking lot at the corner of Pearl and Chippewa Streets, and landscaping.
The project will get an airing before the Buffalo Enterprise Development Corp., where it is likely to pass easily.
Also, city traffic crews have recently installed a new series of signals that in preparation for two-way traffic on North Street from Symphony Circle to Delaware Avenue.
That section of North is currently one way, westbound, through that approximately four-block section. The change will make a quicker trip for motorists attempting to get to Delaware Avenue from Porter Avenue.