By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Grand Island Highway Superintendent Richard Crawford is asking for a “coordinated transportation meeting” with other levels of government to tackle growing traffic concerns in the midst of the Island’s two historically large development proposals.
At last Monday’s Grand Island Town Board workshop meeting, Crawford reiterated an idea he expressed at a Traffic Safety Advisory Board meeting where the Project Olive and Southpointe developments were discussed. He asked the board to consider bringing together the New York State Thruway Authority, Department of Transportation, Erie County Highway Department, Grand Island Town Board, Grand Island Traffic Safety Advisory Board, and Grand Island Highway Department to take a regional approach to dealing with increased traffic.
“Projections and improvements must be looked at for the next five, 10, 15 and 20 years,” Crawford said.
In a memo to the Town Board last week, Crawford pointed out, “The infrastructure of the town highway system was affected by the construction of the West River bike and pedestrian trail. Specifically, traffic on the town-owned West River Road has increased by both truck and vehicle counts.
“This corridor of West River Road to Staley Road was and still is a preferred route to the commercial businesses on Staley Road by many.
“Project Olive will have an access drive for employees off of town-owned Bedell Road. This area currently has storm water issues, aging DOT bridge and repavement needs. This project will require a comprehensive look at the additional stormwater that will be added and its outflow to the Niagara River. A current assessment of the DOT bridge over the I-190 and coring of the pavement must be required to handle the proposed future traffic on Bedell Road west of Grand Island Boulevard. The proposed project will add increases in all types of delivery trucks, passenger vehicles, bikes and pedestrians. Current road conditions will be greatly reduced during potential construction on Bedell Road, West River Road and Long Road (owned by county).”
Crawford said to fully plan for Project Olive, which would be one of the largest warehouses in America, would require “a complete look at the current transportation routes across the Island from North Bridge to South Bridge.”
Councilwoman Jennifer Baney raised the topic at Monday’s Town Board work session: “At our last meeting, as we’re facing larger projects, and having to work with so many different agencies as it relates to these projects – as we have county, town, state roads here on Grand Island, and now we’re dealing with the 190 and the Thruway Authority – things came to a head of really needing to have a collaborative meeting with all agencies involved. ... We have some projects here which we really need to have woven into the plan and we really need to, for the first time, get all agencies – as best we can as a town – talking, planning and working within the same direction.”
Crawford said the Town of Grand Island Highway Department is responsible for 80 miles of roadway and corresponding storm sewer system, traffic lights, town right of ways and other road-related services.