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By Michael DePietro
On July 21, the New York State Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing at the Wheatfield Community Center (2790 Church Road) related to the improvements proposed by the DOT for a pair of “dangerous” intersections along Niagara Falls Boulevard at Ward and Witmer roads. The hearing will run from 4-6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The areas in question have long been a point of contention for residents and town officials alike.
“Those intersections have always had numerous accidents and emergency calls; we’ve had many rear-end accidents because there’s no turning lanes. I think it's something that's long overdue,” Supervisor Don MacSwan said. “We're hoping that, this time, the state does follow through with it; and we’re hoping we get a good resident turnout at the public hearing.”
Last year, the Tribune/Sentinel reported that, according to the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, there had been 48 accidents at the intersection of Ward Road and NFB since 2016 – 16 of which resulted in serious injury. The town said grievances have been repeatedly shared with the DOT for over a decade but, until recently, little action had been taken. Last year however, the speed limit was permanently lowered in that section of the boulevard to 45 mph and new signage was added, including “Signal Ahead,” “Be Prepared to Stop” and “Do Not Drive on Shoulder” signs.
However, many hope more extensive measures will be implemented at the Ward Road intersection, including a widening of the roadway, implementing designated left turn lanes, intersection repaving, replacement and/or installation of curb ramps, new traffic signals, and crosswalks and pedestrian signals as needed.
At the Witmer Road intersection, a proposal has been floated to create a straight road into Oppenheim Park. Currently, drivers traveling down Witmer have to make a left and then an immediate right into the park entrance.
“That would be a big benefit to the residents, since it's a straight shot into the park instead of making the left and creating more problems and more accidents,” MacSwan said.