Hundreds of millions of dollars of new construction on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is transforming Main Street.
It's also turned it into a nightmare for pedestrians and drivers.
Potholes and uneven asphalt dominate a deteriorated two-block stretch between Carlton and High streets alongside the construction of a new building for the University at Buffalo's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Narrowed, shifting driving lanes are separated by temporary yellow traffic dividers.
Directional signs and covered pedestrian walkways near the NFTA's Allen Medical Campus station add to what's become a frustrating scene for pedestrians and drivers.
"Due to the construction activity out there, it puts a lot of stress on those roads, and Main Street bore the brunt of it to accommodate the medical school," Public Works Commissioner Steven J. Stepniak said.
Plans are in the works for temporary fixes for the worst spots closest to the new medical school as the city prepares to begin design work on a much larger, $10 million overhaul of Main Street that could stretch from the medical corridor to potentially as far as Canisius College.
That work isn't slated to begin until at least 2019, with design work possibly beginning as early as next year.
Main Street was expected to take a hard hit, given the weight and volume of additional construction equipment and related traffic.
Some temporary work will be done on Main Street, said City Engineer Michael J. Finn, noting the city and LPCiminelli have been working together to address the issue.
"They have essentially agreed that the scope of their work has caused undue deterioration of the road. They will do a temporary resurface on Main from Carlton to High Street. That's the one we're getting a lot of calls on," Finn said.
Finn said the city would like that section of Main Street "back to where it was" until the major rebuild of the street begins after campus construction has ended.
"Investing major dollars in resurfacing up until this year wouldn't make much sense because of the roads being torn up," Finn said.
Details of the temporary fix are not finalized. "We have not committed, but are communicating with the city," said William J. Mahoney, LPCiminelli vice president. "We're still working with the city to find out what the expectations are."
Meanwhile, for this construction season, more than $400,000 worth of street milling and resurfacing is planned for streets within the Medical Campus area bounded by Michigan Avenue, North, Goodell and Main streets, city officials said.
"It's part of our citywide street overlay program," Finn said. "We'll coordinate the schedule with stakeholders, given the hospitals and construction work. We'll work with them to make sure they're able to maintain their operations."
Finn said the improvements will make road conditions much better than they are now. "It'll definitely be a noticeable improvement to the driving surface and help all the folks accessing the Medical Campus from all of Western New York," Finn said.
Main Street is another story. The major Main Street overhaul is earmarked from Goodell to potentially as far as Canisius College at Jefferson Avenue.
"Main Street is really the issue. That's what has to be redone. It's horrible," said Matt Enstice, president and CEO of Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Inc. "Once the construction is done, we need all that street infrastructure done. We need walkable, bikeable streets accessible to the transit."
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