Long-awaited Allen Street makeover will be­gin on Mon­day

The Buffalo News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Dei­dre Wil­liams NEWS STAFF RE­PORTER

Allen Street hasn’t had a makeover in decades, but that’s about to change be­gin­ning Mon­day.

Phase 1 of the Allen Street Re­con­struc­tion Project from Main Street to Delaware Av­enue be­gins Mon­day, weather per­mit­ting.

The first of two phases will fo­cus on up­grades to util­i­ties – par­tic­u­larly a new wa­ter­line – that are over 100 years old, said Michael J. Finn, city en­gi­neer and act­ing com­mis­sion of the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works, Parks and Streets.

The pre­con­struc­tion that be­gins Mon­day will pre­pare the util­ity lines in ad­vance of “ma­jor util­ity work” that starts March 18. Crews will be dig­ging up in­di­vid­ual spots.

Two-way traf­fic will stay open Mon­day al­though there will be in­ter­mit­tent lane clo­sures, Finn said.

Once con­struc­tion be­gins March 18, traf­fic will be af­fected, Finn said. Allen be­tween Main and Pearl streets will be closed block-by-block as work­ers ad­vance wa­ter main work from Main to Delaware over the first cou­ple weeks of the project.

“The ad­van­tage is we’re go­ing to be able to kind of test out the clo­sure plan that will be in place for the larger re­con­struc­tion that hap­pens after the wa­ter main work is done and work out any kinks with busi­nesses and res­i­dents,” Finn said.

Plan­ners have built in a two-year con­struc­tion sched­ule for the en­tire project to min­i­mize the im­pacts on busi­nesses and res­i­dents, Finn said.

“Ob­vi­ously when we’re do­ing a ma­jor con­struc­tion project, there’s go­ing to be work that we have to do with res­i­dents and busi­ness own­ers to make sure that they are ac­com­mo­dated,” Finn said. “There will be some im­pacts that we all have to work through.”

The price tag for Phase 1 – which will last into the 2020 con­struc­tion sea­son – is about $5 mil­lion, Finn said.

The se­cond phase will cost about $4.5 mil­lion.

It has taken a cou­ple of ex­tra years to get the project off the ground. Plan­ners had an­tic­i­pated start­ing the re­con­struc­tion two years ago and then again last year, but plan­ners used the ex­tra time “to make sure we got it right,” said An­drew Eisen­hardt, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Al­len­town As­so­ci­a­tion, which has been a li­ai­son with the com­mu­nity. Eisen­hardt, who also owns Al­len­town An­tiques, has lived and worked in Al­len­town since 2001, he said.

“We took a lit­tle ex­tra time to hear as many voices as we could so that the project is the best we can do,” he said.

“So many peo­ple had dif­fer­ent opin­ions about things, bike lanes and bring­ing back the trol­ley car. There were just so many op­tions that we re­ally didn’t want to ram some­thing through that wasn’t right.

“We haven’t had any in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ment on Allen Street for 60 years,” he con­tin­ued.

“Our light stan­dards, our Me­d­ina sand­stone curbs, our side­walks – they’re just fall­ing apart. They’re crum­bling be­fore our eyes.”

Peo­ple will be thrilled with the project once it’s done, Eisen­hardt said.

“It’s ex­cit­ing,” he said. “It re­ally is a won­der­ful time to be in Al­len­town.”

Derek Gee/Buf­falo News

Allen Street, as seen look­ing west from the UB Ja­cobs School of Medicine and Biomed­i­cal Sci­ences on Main Street. Makeover work will be­gin on Mon­day and ex­tend into 2020.

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