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Rebuilt traffic circle won't be taking the roundabout route

East Aurora's traffic circle will not be converted into a single-lane roundabout with a lower speed limit, which would have meant eliminating on-street parking for nearby businesses.

Instead, when the state completes its $10.7 million Main Street reconstruction, the redone circle will largely mirror the existing one. It will include a few roundabout features, such as raised medians for safer pedestrian crossings instead of just striping triangular median outlines on the pavement.

The latest plans are expected to stick, after the state last week pitched a compromise idea to village officials who themselves have been split on what should be done at the circle.

Some trustees argue that it is too dangerous for pedestrians to cross the circle at any point, while others say the raised medians are more pedestrian-friendly for a village that prides itself on being a walkable community.

"I think the compromise they came up with was a good compromise. It makes the circle more friendly than it is now and is saving existing businesses," Mayor David J. DiPietro said Friday.

Four board members, including DiPietro, support the compromise plan. Trustees Elizabeth Weberg, Elizabeth Cheteny and Peter Mercurio did not formally cast any votes during a work session last week but were leaning against it.

The compromise calls for a slightly larger circle than the existing one, continuing access to Burger King's drive-through area, retaining parking in front of Reed's liquor store and lowering the size of a median by the Kwik Fill gas station on the circle so that fuel tankers can still enter there.

"It's a compromise from the two alternatives at the [fall] public hearing, but we still feel we're obtaining adequate safety for pedestrians and traffic," said Kenneth J. Kuminski, senior design engineer for the state Department of Transportation.

Weberg said a North Carolina study shows that classic roundabouts are safer for pedestrians than even a intersection with a traffic signal.

DiPietro contended that pedestrians should not be crossing the circle at all because it is such a busy area.

"You can go five to six minutes where there's always a car in the circle," he said. "If we're a walkable community, why can't we walk another 30 to 40 yards to cross at a safe place? Why cross at the busiest place?"

The state and village also agreed on eliminating curb extensions -- also known as "bulb-outs" -- at Grove Street and in front of Aurora Theatre, not wanting to reduce the number of on-street parking spaces. A pedestrian-activated signal will be in place near the theater.

There will be a small curb extension opposite the theater and a regular one in place at Willow and Main streets.


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