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Paving on Main Street near University at Buffalo smooths the effects of winter’s wrath

It’ll be smooth sailing – eventually – on a stretch of Main Street in Buffalo that was ravaged by last winter’s harsh weather.

The section between Hertel and Kenmore avenues was added to the city’s list of paving projects for this construction season, Mayor Byron W. Brown announced Thursday at a news conference nearby. The $9 million budgeted this year will be distributed equally among the nine council districts and will address 75 residential streets.

The Main Street project was well under way Thursday, with work already finished on one westbound lane and crews getting started in the opposite direction.

Traffic heading downtown was running into problems, however.

Orange traffic cones blocking off portions of the right lanes led to confusion among some drivers.

And at each green light, cars lurched ahead uncertainly. Drivers hoping for a smooth exit from University Plaza were met with raised crosswalks that acted more like speed bumps.

Still, the activity was a welcome sight for businesses along Main Street.

Paul Becerril, a salesman at Speaker Shop, said he believed the road’s massive potholes had convinced some motorists to find alternate routes to avoid Main Street.

“When customers do come in, they usually complain about the road,” he said. “They want to know what’s going on with the street and when it’s going to be fixed, that kind of thing.”

If the road’s reputation keeps people away from Main Street, they’d be less likely to stop by the electronics store, Becerril said.

The number of traffic lights in that area also is perceived as a problem.

“This intersection, there’s so many lights right here,” said Andrew Apa, referring to the intersection that turns into University Plaza and a University at Buffalo parking lot. Apa was waiting at a bus station by the light.

“They just keep going every two seconds, so it’s stop-and-go, stop-and-go,” he said. “It holds you up longer. It adds to the frustration.”

Still, even if the repaving doesn’t speed up traffic or send more customers to nearby shops, it is appreciated.

“It’s fantastic,” Becerril said. “I’m excited to have a smooth road again.”

The city also is investing $55 million this year in major roadwork along key corridors, the mayor said. Work continues on major projects, including:

• Reconstruction of Kenmore Avenue, a $5.5 million federally funded project. This year’s work involves an almost mile-long stretch between Main Street and the railroad tracks near Fairfield Avenue. Buffalo and Erie County each are contributing $550,000 toward this final phase.

• Repaving/resurfacing Niagara Street, a $2.2 million project extending from South Elmwood Avenue to Virginia Street.

• The completion of the $11.3 million redevelopment of Ohio Street.

• A $7.92 million project on West Ferry Street to enhance the connection to improvements under way on Niagara Street and Unity Island.

“As we continue to build a city of opportunity in Buffalo where economic growth continues, we will continue to invest in infrastructure citywide,” Brown said.