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Tonawanda officials say they’re working to make Niagara Falls Boulevard safer

Following the fourth pedestrian fatality on the same stretch of Niagara Falls Boulevard in three years, Town of Tonawanda officials said they have been working on a joint study with their counterparts in Amherst to make the boulevard a safer corridor for pedestrians and motorists.

Planning officials in both municipalities have been collecting data on the corridor and compiling it in a draft summary that will soon be available to the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council to review, according to Town of Tonawanda Councilman John Bargnesi.

The council controls which projects get funded by the state Department of Transportation, Bargnesi said.

“So once they’re on board with funding different projects, things can move along,” he said Friday.

Concern over making the corridor safer was heightened last week, when 62-year-old John C. Strasser became the fourth pedestrian fatality in three years along a 2.8-mile, heavily commercial stretch of Niagara Falls Boulevard that straddles Amherst and the Town of Tonawanda. Tonawanda Supervisor Joseph H. Emminger balked after an Amherst lawmaker suggested that little progress had been made by a joint planning commission that was established by the two towns to address safety issues along the corridor.

“The Town of Tonawanda Office of Planning and Development staff have been engaged with the Amherst planning staff for approximately five months in studying the Niagara Falls Boulevard corridor between our two towns. A draft Phase I report regarding the corridor has been prepared by our staff members and is currently being reviewed by both towns,” Emminger wrote in a follow-up letter to Amherst Deputy Supervisor Steven D. Sanders.

Bargnesi said Tonawanda Town Planning Director James Hartz has attended at least three of the joint meetings.

“From everything we have done together, it has been running very smoothly. Once the Phase I (study) is out, there’s going to be a recommendation for a Phase II,” he said.

Bargnesi added that the Phase I report will not only address issues of traffic and safety, but also zoning and future land use and development along the Niagara Falls corridor.

email: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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