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The final phase of the 15-year-old rebuilding of Delaware Avenue began Wednesday with workers setting out orange cones to narrow the stretch between West Delavan Avenue and the south end of the Delaware Park S-curves to one lane each way.

Although there were some backups of traffic exiting from the Scajaquada Expressway to Delaware during the morning rush hour, state officials don't believe police will be required to direct traffic during the lengthy project.

"We'd like to see people use alternate routes if they could, such as Elmwood (Avenue) or Main (Street)," said Bob Lojacano, the state Department of Transportation engineer in charge of the $7.5 million project.

It will take three construction seasons to complete the rebuilding of Delaware from West Delavan Avenue to Nottingham Terrace. When finished in November 1999, the S-curves will be less curved and the road will be reduced from three lanes to two in each direction.

The entire Delaware Avenue rebuilding project began in 1982 at Niagara Square. The project will be finished when it reaches Nottingham.

Lojacano said the state will rebuild Delaware between Forest Avenue and West Delavan this year, starting first with the cemetery side of the road and then moving over to the residential side.

Because of the distance required to squeeze three lanes of traffic into one, the actual lane restrictions begin at about the final third of the south section of the S-curves, Lojacano said. The reconstruction of the S-curves is not scheduled to begin until next spring.

When completed, the rebuilt stretch of Delaware will include new curbs and sidewalks, improved drainage, new signs and streetlights and extensive landscaping. The two Depression-era Works Progress Administration bridges also will be replaced.

For the final phase, state engineers worked with preservationists to ensure the reconstruction was compatible with historic Delaware Park.

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