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Town of Wheatfield, DOT discuss Shawnee Road closure

by yarger
Thu, Nov 29th 2018 01:30 pm
Pictured is a map with the location of the Shawnee Road culvert replacement. Town Board members did voice concerns about truck traffic disobeying the noted truck detour and possibly using the non-commercial detour down Slusaric Road instead.
Pictured is a map with the location of the Shawnee Road culvert replacement. Town Board members did voice concerns about truck traffic disobeying the noted truck detour and possibly using the non-commercial detour down Slusaric Road instead.
By David Yarger
Tribune Editor
Monday night, the Town of Wheatfield Town Board and the New York State Department of Transportation met to discuss the upcoming road closure of Shawnee Road.
Two representatives from the DOT, who would not disclose their names to press, discussed local non-commercial and truck detours in regards to the culvert replacement along Shawnee Road. The replacement is estimated to take three to four weeks.
The project is part of a series of culvert replacements the DOT is performing across Niagara and Erie counties. The DOT said bids will open for the project in March. Once the bid is awarded, the contractor will schedule when each culvert will be replaced. The timetable for the project's entirety is set to begin in the spring of 2019, with completion by fall of 2020.
The culvert on Shawnee Road is located south of Mapleton Road. The current culvert is a 5-foot by 2.5-foot concrete box. The current one will be replaced by an 8-foot by 4-foot concrete box. The new culvert is larger to accommodate environmental restrictions and increase hydraulic capacity. Along with the culvert, new guiderails will also be constructed.
For the non-commercial vehicle detour, traffic will be rerouted via Mapleton Road to Townline Road, then back on to Slusaric Road. The detour is 2.4 miles. There will also be a temporary traffic signal installed at the intersection Townline and Mapleton roads.
Truck traffic will be required to detour 8.4 miles along Lockport Road to Route 429, then U.S. 62.
The length of the truck detour raised concerns to board members, because some felt truck drivers would blow off the truck detour and just use the non-commercial route. The DOT said signage would be posted instructing trucks to take the correct detour.
Regardless of the reply, board members still had worries about trucks going down the smaller sized Slusaric Road of the non-commercial detour.
"There will certainly be DOT presence on the project," the DOT said. The representatives added that, if need be, law enforcement will be contacted if the detour routes are being violated.
Councilman Gil Doucet asked the representatives if this was going to happen regardless, or if the presentation was a request of support, which DOT confirmed the latter.
Following the comments, Wheatfield Supervisor Don MacSwan said, "I think it's a little premature to vote on. I think it's something that we'll have to discuss. We still have time to discuss the use of a town road for cars only and proper posting - things like that."
Councilman Randy Retzlaff noted his concerns with the detours and said, "The problem is, it's going to be midnight and there's going to be an 18-wheeler going down Slusaric or making a U-turn. To me, I know it's going to happen. They're going to be turning around, or getting a ticket. One of the two is going to happen."
Councilman Larry Helwig asked the representatives what would happen if a truck missed the sign noting the detour, which the response was, "They'll have to turn around." Helwig's reply to that - "Where?" - received no reply.
Residents also chimed in, and one said, "Traffic on Shawnee is unbelievable with these trucks, and they're fast. They don't slow down."  
The DOT spoke from past experience and said the compliance of truck detours on past projects is good, and people don't disregard them.
Highway Superintendent Paul Siegmann asked the representatives if Slusaric and Townline roads would be bonded in case of damage. Siegmann reminded the two that a lot of campers drive up and down the road during the summer, as well, which could additionally add to the detour issue.
"The radius on them roads are not designed for that kind of traffic. They'll be chewing up the people's yards. Do I get your number to call? Because I know they're going to be calling mine," Siegmann said.
The DOT responded, "In our anticipation, two weeks of traffic should not be doing much damage to your streets. But, if there is, we can visit that issue.
"If the board feels strongly, we can certainly send everybody on the longer detour. This was just an option we came up with to help the local people. If everybody feels that strongly, they'll just make one detour."
MacSwan said the board would discuss the matter and send out a letter with some resolutions prior to Dec. 15.

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