Allen Street is finally getting a makeover. And it’s about time.
The first phase of the Allen Street Reconstruction Project from Main Street to Delaware Avenue began this week, starting with utility upgrades and setting the stage for preconstruction. Any inconvenience to residents and business owners during Phase 1, lasting into the 2020 construction season and costing about $5 million, will ultimately be well worth it.
The worn-out street connecting to the refurbished and revitalized Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has been in desperate need of attention. It’s been about 60 years since the street saw any substantial improvement, and the broken, uneven sidewalks and dips and divots in the narrow road make it seem even longer.
The contrast to the beaming Medical Campus and its new and refurbished buildings is sharp. Among them are: the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; Oishei Children’s Hospital; Buffalo General Medical Center; Gates Vascular Institute; University at Buffalo’s Clinical and Translational Research Center; Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center; Conventus Center for Collaborative Medicine; and other medical and research organizations.
Allen Street, serving hip Allentown with its unique architecture and character, should reflect the momentum and better serve businesses from dress shops to barbershops, beauticians, bars, diners and restaurants. Small businesses draw big crowds, clogging the street with vehicles moving carefully (sometimes) among the parked cars, and stopping (sometimes) for attentive pedestrians.
It is finally time for the radical redesign that will bring the street into the 21st century, while paying homage to its past. Plans were delayed for a couple of years over logistical concerns and issues raised by the area’s merchants and residents. Those matters have been resolved.
Traditional sidewalks with a curb setting them off from park and driving lanes will give way to sidewalk and parking lanes at the same level, sloping down several inches to driving lanes and shared lane markings to accommodate vehicles and bicycles.
The streetscape will feature different paving materials, including multicolored concrete, line markings and posts, or bollards, freeing up space for festivals and other special events. The plan offers options with design flexibility.
Not since sandstone curbing was poured along Allen Street back in the 1920s and 1930s, or sidewalks were laid nearly 60 years ago, has there been this level of attention to a well-known and well-traveled street. It’s another sign of Buffalo’s revival.