Conversation continues after debates regarding DOT project in Wheatfield
By David Yarger
On Monday night, the Town of Wheatfield Town Board held its first meeting of December, but its second in as many weeks, which brought out a light agenda. A topic from last week's Nov. 26 meeting, though, was back in discussion.
At the last meeting, Town Board members heard from the New York State Department of Transportation regarding a culvert replacement along Shawnee Road between Mapleton and Slusaric roads. The project along Shawnee Road is a series of replacements the DOT plans to construct at several locations across Niagara and Erie counties. The entirety of the project is set to begin in spring of 2019, with closure in the summer of 2020. Since a contract bid has not been awarded, there is no timetable for construction along Shawnee Road.
Upon the presentation, several councilmen voiced displeasure with the displayed detour routes.
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.
Councilmen Gil Doucet, Randy Retzlaff and Larry Helwig all threw questions the DOT's way regarding truck detour violators, U-turns for truck traffic if they blow off the detour signage, and possible road damage, with minimal detail in response.
The biggest concern amongst the board was truck traffic violating the posted truck detour for the shorter detour going down Slusaric Road, which is a smaller road more for local non-commercial traffic.
On Monday night, the board approved the detours, but with added conditions, and not before further discussion.
One of the conditions in the motion read, "The two aforementioned detours shall only be agreed to, approved and allowed in the Town of Wheatfield on the condition that the New York State Department of Transportation shall adequately mark at the detour locations, and in numerous locations throughout the town to provide adequate traffic notifications of the detours and that at the entrance to each detour, it contain proper notice and signage as well as blockades, if necessary, to divert the traffic and prevent large trucks/commercial vehicles from entering the Mapleton Road, Townline Road and Slusaric Road detour ...
"If during the course of the culvert replacement, it appears that the New York State Department of Transportation signage is not adequately preventing large trucks/commercial vehicle traffic upon the Mapleton Road, Townline Road and Slusaric Road detour, then the New York State Department of Transportation will, in addition to additional signage and blockades, request the use of law enforcement and/or New York State Department of Transportation personnel to prevent improper usage of said detours."
Town of Wheatfield Supervisor Don MacSwan added the town requested the DOT alert the town 30 days in advance of when the project will begin construction.
Despite signage being posted alerting traffic of the detours, Helwig still had his concerns regarding the separate detours.
"I didn't see that they're going to create any special turnarounds, because you know for sure, that there's going to be a truck that doesn't see the original sign; they're going to be on Shawnee Road and now they have to turn around," Helwig said.
Another condition added by Wheatfield Highway Superintendent Paul Siegmann was to invoke an Article 42. The Article 42 would take responsibility of road damage off of the town's shoulders and onto the DOT, and if damage did occur during the project, the state would have to fix the conditions. Siegmann's addition got the nod from MacSwan and Helwig, who said, "I'd like to put it in writing."
MacSwan added, that once the project begins, he planned on contacting the state police to monitor the non-commercial detour for violating truck traffic.
With the conditions added, the Town Board approved the item in a 5-0 vote.
In other news:
Town of Wheatfield residents will see an increase in water and sewer rates. Monday night, the board approved an increase in water rates of 15 cents per 1,000 gallons and in sewer rates of 10 cents per 1,000 gallons. Water rates are now up from $2.10 to $2.25 and sewer rates are up from $1 to $1.10. The increase will result in a minimum water/sewer bill being $23.45. The increase will take effect Jan. 1, 2019.
The next Town of Wheatfield Town Board meeting is at 7 p.m. Dec. 17.