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Mayor eyes parkway designation for Elm-Oak

If Buffalo officials have their way, the busy Elm Street/Oak Street corridor in downtown Buffalo could be transformed into a parkway-like setting that would be both pedestrian and vehicular friendly.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown has written to Darrell Kaminski, New York State Department of Transportation regional director, asking the agency consider turning both the Elm-Oak corridor as well as a stretch of Church Street near the Adam's Mark Hotel into parkway-like road instead of the more-open thoroughfares that currently exist.

Both are major thoroughfares into and out of downtown Buffalo.

While such requests from Buffalo to the NYSDOT are not new, Brown said there is a stronger sense of urgency given the rise in downtown Buffalo residents in recent years and a number of developments that could benefit from changes to those streets.

"Investment momentum in downtown has rapidly accelerated over the past few years and there is a need now more than ever to re-evaluate how our streets can best serve the changing needs of the community and region," Brown wrote in his letter to Kaminski.

State DOT officials could not be reached for comment.

"Basic striping considerations, paving techniques and traffic calming measures have been identified as ways to meet these objectives without adding to overall project costs," Brown added. "Ideally, I ask that consideration also be given to crosswalk signals."

City officials said they expect to meet soon with DOT representatives about Brown's request.

Brown's request comes against a backdrop of the DOT potentially considering some basic repairs to the Elm/Oak corridor.

"With more people living downtown, this is becoming a major issue," said David Stebbins, Buffalo Urban Development Corp. vice president.