Niagara County Legislator Jesse Gooch on Thursday sent a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul asking her to intervene in efforts to lower the speed limit on Shawnee Road in the Town of Wheatfield. Residents have been seeking a speed limit reduction for years, but the state Department of Transportation has refused the request.
In the letter, Gooch wrote, “Shawnee Road (NYS Route 425) is a major north/south connector in Niagara County and is heavily traveled by commuters, school buses and commercial traffic each day. Yet Shawnee also has a large number of residential homes right on it as well as numerous neighborhoods and subdivisions that funnel into it. The communities that rely on Shawnee also happen to be some of the fastest growing areas in Niagara County, according to recent census data.
“I give this background information to make the case for lowering the speed limit on Shawnee Road, something local residents have been seeking for years. There have been an incredible 183 traffic accidents on this stretch of road between 2017 and 2019.”
A press release said, “Gooch pointed to several other factors that point to the need for a lower speed limit, including the difficulty of turning onto Shawnee from adjoining neighborhoods; the fact school buses make regular stops on Shawnee to pick up and drop off children; the very narrow shoulder on the road; and the multiple speed zone changes on Shawnee from Lockport Road to Niagara Falls Boulevard, creating confusion and inconsistency.”
Gooch noted this request is not unprecedented, as the state took “bold action” on both the Scajaquada Expressway and Niagara Falls Boulevard in recent years to reduce speed limits.
He said, “I recognize there are always requests for lower speed limits and that traffic engineers will say that lowering a speed limit in some instances can actually create dangerous situations. With that being said, the situation on Shawnee Road does not fall into that category. A once lightly traveled north/south road in a rural community has become a major connector in a built-out and still growing suburban area. The community has significantly changed along Shawnee and the speed limit needs to change with it.”