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North Clinton block will get a redesign 

The block between Sullivan Street and Hoeltzer Street along North Clinton Avenue is at an intersection, a figurative one.

Next year, construction on the long-awaited International Plaza at La Marketa should start, turning a vacant lot in the El Camino neighborhood into a public market and recreation area. The project's been in the works for 30 years, and neighbors as well as community leaders have high hopes for it. Officials intend it to showcase the area's multinational culture, especially its Hispanic and Latinx heritage.

But before that happens, the block will get a Complete Streets Makeover from Reconnect Rochester, a transportation and bike-pedestrian advocacy group. The makeover will resemble what Reconnect Rochester and the Beechwood neighborhood did last year at Parsells Avenue and Greeley Street. There, work included temporary curb extensions at all four corners of the intersection and a mural on the street and other public art. The city installed speed cushions, which are a kind of speed hump designed to let large emergency vehicles pass unimpeded. 

The whole idea of the Beechwood project was to get drivers to slow down; before the work, some drivers would blow through the residential area at 50 miles an hour. And the aesthetic changes were intended to make the intersection more attractive for residents and visitors and to catch drivers' attention.

For its 2019 Complete Streets Makeover project, Reconnect Rochester asked the public to nominate "intersections and trouble spots" that could be redesigned to be safer. It received nominations for 31 locations, but North Clinton along the La Marketa block landed at the top of the screening committee's list.

The nomination came from two residents, Jim Fraser and Laurie Bogmis. Miguel Melendez, chief community engagement officer at Ibero, worked with Fraser and Bogmis to put the nomination together.

The corridor has had a problem with crashes. Reconnect Rochester examined data and found that over the last five years, there were close to 60 incidents involving pedestrians or cyclists, says Mary Staropoli, the organization's planning and development director.

But the La Marketa site is also a long, busy block within a longer stretch – the area between Clifford Avenue and Don Samuel Torres Park – that lacks crosswalks entirely, Melendez says.

"The jaywalking issue is a real thing on Clinton Avenue," Melendez says. "Everyone's just crossing wherever they decide is the point at which they want to cross."

Engineers from Stantec will develop a conceptual design for the corridor, which will incorporate public input from a session that Reconnect Rochester and Ibero held with community members on June 27. During that event, participants stressed the need for safe pedestrian crossings in the corridor and offered other suggestions, such as putting a bike lane on one side of the street and parking on the other, and the addition of colorful art, Staropoli says. The participants also want the corridor to celebrate the neighborhood's culture, she says.

Reconnect Rochester, Ibero, and community members will take that concept and temporarily install its components, using equipment borrowed from the child health advocacy group Healthi Kids. That group maintains a library of various traffic-calming tools, from bollards to speed bumps and temporary curb extensions.

The groups will monitor the effect on vehicle speed using equipment borrowed from the Genesee Transportation Council. The data will be provided to city and county transportation officials so they can use it to pursue permanent changes, if the project achieves its intended purpose.

The project will also address the general image and feel of the La Marketa block through things like artwork, which would lift up the neighborhood and help slow traffic, Melendez says. All of the work would be consistent with El Camino's vision plan, which is available at myelcamino.org.

"It's an opportunity to create an identity on that avenue," Melendez says.

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