By Timothy Chipp
Whenever the white flakes decide to make their presence known, Town of Niagara Highway Department Supervisor Richard Sirianni is ready.
Earlier this month, Sirianni ordered about 200 tons of salt for the upcoming winter season, his first in the position since taking over for the retired Robert Herman in September.
Sirianni, who ran unopposed for election to the position, was appointed by the Town Board early to facilitate Herman’s retirement and maintain continuity in the department entering autumn.
Not only does Sirianni have the supplies, he has the crew and equipment needed to ensure whatever happens this winter is handled quickly and without incident.
“We’ve got our four plows ready to go,” he said. “All of our salters are mounted and calibrated. They’re all ready.”
Since the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center has almost all of Western New York pegged for a warmer-than-average winter season – with normal to slightly below normal precipitation, due to the El Niño developing in the Pacific Ocean – it’s unclear when the snow will arrive.
In the meantime, Sirianni said, the highway crews are still out in the community collecting fallen leaves left at the street.
It’s a labor-intensive operation, he said, with four or five guys needed to accomplish the collecting and dumping – leaves are left, for now, on a hill near the department’s barn on Lockport Road, he said.
“It’ll get done,” Sirianni said. “It just takes time.”
Of course, the snow will eventually arrive. And when it does, the salt Sirianni purchased will come in handy keeping the town-owned roads free of ice.
Where the salt comes from has changed this year, thanks to a new Niagara County bid. It left Sirianni unsure, as one of his first actions in the role was placing the order.
He quickly got it figured out, though.
“I was actually calling our old supplier and they told me they couldn’t help me,” he said. “So, we have no choice (where the salt comes from). The county changed it and we have no choice in it.
“But we are saving money.”
The new salt order, according to New York State official documents, comes from a Kansas-headquartered Compass Minerals America, from a packaging facility in Lackawanna. The contract replaces this past winter’s contract with American Rock Salt Co., outside Geneseo.
Speed Limit Too Steep?
At the Town of Niagara’s regular meeting Tuesday, Charles LaGreca wondered if there were any options available to the town to lower the speed limit crossing over the Lockport Road bridge near its intersections with both East Britton and Haseley drives.
LaGreca said he’s been nearly run off the road there multiple times trying to navigate the road by vehicles driving in excess of the speed limit of 45 mph.
“With texting and bumper riding so prevalent, it’s dangerous,” he said. “Especially in the winter, it’s very treacherous.”
A wrinkle in the situation is the planned Amazon warehouse will be located at the next intersection, at Lockport and Packard roads. And LaGreca said, should the facility ever become reality, those folks driving to and from work will only compound the situation.
Niagara Police Chief Craig Guiliani agreed with LaGreca about the intersection’s hazards. He said there have been fatal crashes there, though none of them featured the issues LaGreca highlighted in his request.
“It can be tricky,” Guiliani said. “Especially when you aren’t paying attention and you’re going too fast. It can be dangerous.”
However, Guiliani said, the state Department of Transportation doesn’t allow towns like Niagara to lower speed limits, especially on county-owned Lockport Road. Instead, the Town Board would need to petition the state, which would then take the matter under advisement.
And even then, the first result would be a traffic study, Guiliani said.
Other Town Board Notes
•Town of Niagara officials approved the proposed industrial development by Uniland Development Co., at 3401 Military Road, pending a building permit.
•An agreement to sell the solar power farm in the Republic Services Allied Waste Niagara Falls Landfill was approved, giving the current owner, AC Power 15 LLC, the ability to sell the operation to Callibrant Energy. The town will receive 15 annual payments from the owner according to a negotiated fee schedule in lieu of taxes.
•December’s meeting schedule will be different as the board considers the Christmas holiday. A work session will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5, followed by the board’s regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12. Both will take place in the conference room at Town Hall, 7105 Lockport Road.