Tonawanda News — KENMORE — The speedy drivers who often attempted to cut around slow-goers on Delaware Avenue are now being stymied by the new lane changes the state Department of Transportation has implemented.
The DOT made the changes last week by restriping the road to include one lane in each direction, a two-way turning lane and a wider shoulder for parking.
“I’ve gotten a few calls from people who said how great they think it is,” Kenmore Mayor Patrick Mang said. “It seems like there is finally some control going down to one lane ... it was crazy before.”
As a result of the two-way turning lane, drivers will now be able to make a left at the intersections of Lincoln Boulevard and Delaware Avenue, and at Delaware Avenue and Delaware road. The “no left hand turn” sign that sat at Lincoln is what inspired Mang to talk to the DOT months ago.
Before the changes, drivers weren’t able to make a left to get to the municipal lot behind the avenue’s strip of businesses, many of which have recently been renovated.
“We have a few new shops, like the Helene jewelry shop and the dance studio boutique, and people weren’t able to access them because they couldn’t make the left, and now they can,” Mang said.
Many local business owners supported the proposal at a board meeting back in February. Nick Sinatra, whose company owns buildings on the strip, as well as Rep. Brian Higgins and state Sen. Mark Grisanti, wrote letters to the board supporting the restriping.
Bob Bolt, the owner of Mike’s Subs on Delaware Avenue, said in February that he hoped the changes would make it easier for drivers to legally make left-hand turns and access the free parking lot.
He said that his commute to work is a bit smoother, too.
“When I’m coming into my store, I pulled over in the center turning lane to make a left,” Bolt said. “I sat there for about a minute while a ton of cars went by. In the past, I would have backed up traffic ... and people would have attempted to go around me.”
The shared turning lane has also made it easier for drivers to make a left on to Delaware from the side streets, as drivers will only have to wait for traffic to clear on their side of the road before entering what many call the “suicide lane.”
Some parking on Delaware was lost at the north and south end of the village to account for the transition from two lanes to one, but DOT officials said the loss was minimal.
Mang said they have experienced a timing problem with a light at LaSalle Avenue, but the light should be fixed within three weeks.
“The DOT kind of missed it in their plans,” Mang said. “I have heard some griping about that light but it really has nothing to do with the restriping and it will get fixed.”Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter at @JessicaLBagley