A dream decades in the making was realized this weekend when North Clinton Avenue was infused with the flavor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, during the “Complete Streets Makeover.”

On Sept. 29, volunteers transformed a busy section of North Clinton Avenue, or “La Avenida” to slow traffic and make the street more welcoming to pedestrians and bicyclists. This spring a committee of community partners chose the neighborhood to receive a “Complete Streets Makeover.”

Complete streets are designed to be safe and welcoming for all users. “At Reconnect Rochester, we believe the streets are for all people, regardless of their age, ability or mode of transportation,” said Renee Stetzer, president of Reconnect Rochester. “Those who walk, bike, roll and ride along them every day deserve to do so safely.”

Following a design by engineers at Stantec, volunteers installed temporary improvements from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday on North Clinton Avenue between Hoeltzer and Sullivan streets. These elements, which are intended to slow traffic, include eye-catching crosswalks and street art, curb extensions and bump outs. The community also made and installed beautification elements including planters, sidewalk seating and public art.

Painting was led by graffiti artist Zone from the noted Rochester graffiti collective FUA Krew. The event included food for volunteers and music from Poder 97.1, a non-profit Spanish radio station owned by the Ibero-American Action League. A short documentary will be made of the transformation.

Reconnect Rochester organized the makeover with support of the City of Rochester, the New York State Department of Transportation, Healthi Kids, Ibero American Development Corporation, the El Camino neighborhood, the Father Tracy Advocacy Center and other community partners.

This section of North Clinton Avenue was chosen from 31 other locations nominated by the public for a makeover. The busy stretch is one of the region’s most dangerous road segments for bicyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, wheelchair users and other vulnerable travelers, according to research sponsored by the Genesee Transportation Council.

Community members were able to weigh in on the design during a community input session in the spring run by the Community Design Center at the Father Tracy Advocacy Center. Based on the community feedback, engineers at Stantec created a design. Healthi Kids provided paint and loaned the project rubber curbs, delineator posts, signs, sign posts and other elements from its traffic-calming library. Transportation officials will study the response to the changes to determine if the new streetscape should become permanent.

“Speeding cars have prevented families from walking, biking and playing in neighborhoods across the city,” said Mike Bulger, healthy communities project coordinator of Common Ground Health. “Improving road safety for all users through crosswalks, curbs and wider corner bump outs will slow traffic and make North Clinton Avenue more welcoming.”

Bulger noted that the makeover also fits into and supports the neighborhood’s vision of a Latin urban village and gathering place called La Marketa. The city of Rochester recently received funding to develop an international plaza on North Clinton to anchor La Marketa and serve as a multi-use public gathering space.

The International Plaza at La Marketa will transform a vacant lot diagonally across from St. Michael’s Church into a well-defined public plaza for retail and outdoor use. Improvements include a bandstand, new landscaping and a public restroom, and the site will offer entry-level retail opportunities for small businesses in the area.

“Change has come to La Avenida,” said Rudy Rivera, executive director of the Father Tracy Advocacy Center. “The goal is to improve the quality of life for all who reside or travel through the Latino community.”

Stantec will provide conceptual designs for improvements for two additional locations: the intersection of South Clinton, South Goodman and Henrietta Street and the intersection of Monroe Avenue and Sutherland Street in the Village of Pittsford.

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Click here to access an image gallery that will be updated as the project progresses.