Area State Lawmakers Urge NYSDOT to Act on Safety Improvements for Niagara Falls Boulevard

October 16, 2018

KENMORE, NY — Assemblyman Robin Schimminger (D-C-I-Kenmore) has announced that his office has initiated a joint letter to the state Department of Transportation with other state legislators who represent the towns of Tonawanda and Amherst, seeking action on a Niagara Falls Boulevard Pedestrian Safety Audit. Officials of both towns completed the “walk audit” for a section of the highway earlier this summer in response to a total of six tragic, fatal accidents involving pedestrians.

In their correspondence to Francis P. Cirillo, regional director of the DOT, the officials noted that in the walk audit, which analyzed a segment of 2.4 miles of Niagara Falls Boulevard between Ridge Lea Road/Koenig Road and East Robinson Road, more than 100 observations relating to deficiencies in safety measures designed to protect pedestrians were recorded, including insufficient pedestrian crossing times at intersections, lack of raised medians and inadequate opportunity for bus users to cross in order to get to their stops and avoid missing their means of transportation.

The letter emphasized that the four state legislators appreciate steps the DOT has already taken to improve pavement striping at existing crosswalk markings and fix malfunctioning pedestrian signal devices on the Boulevard. However, they said the DOT should not wait until its own study has been completed sometime next year, which is the department’s current plan of action, to implement further changes. Other proposed changes, including the addition of more high-visibility “ladder bar” crosswalks, “shark’s teeth” yield lines on pavement in advance of crosswalks, fluorescent pedestrian crossing signs and reflective posts, and the re-timing of traffic signals for proper intervals, should be made as soon as possible.

“As an elected official representing of the Town of Tonawanda, I look forward to also working with the Town of Amherst and the state DOT to rectify this dangerous situation that puts pedestrians at risk and has resulted in six tragedies,” said Schimminger. “While some changes have been made, more can and should be done.”

“I applaud Amherst and Tonawanda officials for taking a leadership role in identifying over 100 safety deficiencies on Niagara Falls Boulevard. It's long overdue for the New York State Department of Transportation to enhance pedestrian safety along this dangerous stretch of heavily traveled state highway. The Department of Transportation should stop delaying and take action immediately on some of the more basic safety improvements that don't require further study,” said State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer.

“While I appreciate the improvements to date made by the DOT along this dangerous stretch of Niagara Falls Boulevard, I agree with my Senate and Assembly colleagues that more can and should be done now to make this state road safer for the residents of the Towns of Tonawanda and Amherst,” said State Senator Chris Jacobs. “I hope that our urgings will be heard by the DOT and responded to quickly.”

“When lives hang in the balance, government must act. These safety improvements for Niagara Falls Boulevard are basic protections that the NYS DOT must deliver immediately in order to protect pedestrians and comply with federal transportation safety requirements,” said Assemblyman Ray Walter.