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BOARD ASKS STATE TO CUT SPEED LIMIT ON I-190

Slow down.

That's the plea of Town of Niagara officials, who want the state to return the speed limit to 55 mph on the section of Interstate 190 that runs through the town.

The Town Board voted 4-0 last week to request the reduction. The speed limit had been raised to 65 mph last spring.

Town officials said the speed should be lowered because of lengthy backups at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge.

Officials also pointed to risks of accidents during bad weather on the winding, elevated bridge surfaces.

Police Chief H. James Suitor said the speed doesn't need to be 65 mph on that stretch of highway.

"Our section of the I-190 is directly connected to an international border crossing, the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge," he noted in a letter to State Sen. George B. Maziarz, R-North Tonawanda.

"As you know, we experience frequent backups of both passenger and commercial traffic as a result of this international crossing.

"Many times these vehicles are now forced to go from 65 mph to zero with little to no notice, and I have no doubt that these backups will result in a tragedy with this increased speed."

Maziarz said he was not sure how quickly such action could be taken. After meeting with Suitor and Supervisor Steven C. Richards last week, he wrote to the State Thruway Authority requesting the reduction.

If that does not trigger action, Maziarz said he will introduce legislation in the State Senate.

"I think it should be 55," he said.

In other matters, the Town Board unanimously rejected a controversial proposal that would have required residents to take down fences taller than 4 feet.

After holding a public hearing last month, board members voted 4-0 to reject the proposal to limit fence heights.

At the previous hearing, residents who had obtained town approval for their fences protested the proposed change as unfair.

"I was dead against that," said Richards, who noted that the change was proposed to deal with fences on corner lots after motorists complained about visibility at intersections because of some fenced-in properties.

The proposed law would have required the removal of 21 fences.

"That's totally unfair," Richards said.

"We're only trying to address the safety concerns," Councilman Marc M. Carpenter said.

If the highway superintendent or police chief considers a fence unsafe, current law would require the owners to remove it, he said.

e-mail: pkowalik@buffnews.com

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