Article and Photo by Karen Carr Keefe
Senior Contributing Writer
There was good news at Monday’s Town Board meeting for Staley Road residents who have expressed their traffic safety concerns about the road they live on.
Toward the close of the meeting, Town Highway Superintendent Dick Crawford said work is expected to begin this fall on widening the shoulders of the road, with micropaving – resurfacing – to begin after that.
Crawford was responding to issues raised by Staley Road resident Alice Carlson during the public comment section for people to discuss issues that are not on the regular agenda.
Sherrie Kern is spokesperson for the steering committee guiding residents who are seeking remedies for Staley Road. The residential quality of the road has changed, as two pharmaceutical companies (Thermo Fisher and Fresenius Kabi) have expanded their businesses, staff and deliveries to meet market demands.
On behalf of the residents, Kern welcomed the news that work on widening the shoulders of Staley Road could be underway this fall.
“They’re very happy that there’s progress,” she said. “Last August was when we started collecting signatures for petitions, just to bring it to the attention of the town that it wasn’t just a few of us that were upset. It was the majority of people living on Staley Road that were concerned about the volume of traffic and how that affects our inability to be able to walk on the road, to be able to ride bikes, walk your dog, walk your horse … collect your mail if it’s on the opposite of the road.”
Kern said that was the primary issue that prompted them to go door-to-door for signatures.
She said the lack of shoulders on the road also means that, if there’s any remodeling or repairs that homeowners need to have done, there’s no room for construction vehicles to pull over off of the road onto a shoulder without an entire lane of traffic.
“We’ve said all along that Staley is an accident waiting to happen,” Kern said. Just the wind draft from the semis going down the road is not safe, she added. The set of problems makes it increasingly difficult for residents to walk, ride or drive down the road they live on.
She said members of the steering committee and some residents had been coming to the Town Board meetings and speaking about their concerns during the public comment sections of the meetings.
“The frustration has been, not necessarily with the town, but with the state not getting the reports done,” Kern said.
She said the state has been dragging its heels on the issue. For example, there’s a state safety traffic report the town has been waiting for, for months, she said.
“Tied in with that is a request to have the speed limit reduced to 40 mph” on Staley Road, Kern said. The state is the agency that would have to approve any speed limit change.
Crawford said the shoulder-widening contractor has been selected.
“The work will be done by Suit-Kote,” which is the low bidder, he said. “We have cost proposals from the Erie County Department of Public Works’ bid, and it’s piggybacking off a Chautauqua County bid” for similar work – road shoulder-widening. “Under the procurement laws of New York state, we can piggyback off of that bid. That’s why we don’t have to go out to bid because it’s already been done.”
He said Town Board officials are as eager as the residents to resolve the problems that have been the focus of concern.
“We all are in their corner to get a remedy,” Crawford said. “The businesses are important to us, and certainly the homeowners are even more important to us.”
He explained that the problem with the shoulders of the road is that they are only about 2 feet wide.
“It goes back to the original design of the road, back, probably in the ’50s for the Nike Base that was down there,” Crawford said.
He noted it was a rural road with some houses and farms, as well as Little League diamonds, a radio tower, and a very small pharmaceutical business that operated out of a private home.
“There has been great dialogue with the residents concerning this project of widening the shoulders and looking at speed, trash and investigating a lower speed limit,” Crawford said. “The town and residents met with representatives from Thermo Fisher and Fresenius Kabi who also understand the resident concerns that have been presented.”
Crawford said Supervisor John Whitney has requested the officer in charge schedule periodic traffic details on Staley Road to deal with the issue of speeding.
“The town has utilized its radar trailer to monitor the speeds for this area,” Crawford said. “Concerns have been brought to the Town Board, Traffic Safety Advisory Board and Highway Department.”
Crawford said the information is collected and discussed with all parties. Plans are that the road will be re-stripped as a double-yellow to make travel on Staley safer.
Kern said residents are unhappy about heavy traffic of semitrucks bringing goods to the pharmaceutical companies down Staley Road, causing motorists to wait for traffic to clear before they can even leave their driveways.
Crawford explained, “The pickup and delivery of goods is controlled through both companies; they attempt to coordinate shift changes between companies to buffer high volume times. They educate their employees on being good neighbors and share information on speeding and garbage.”