Share this article

print logo


A $3.5 million project to expand and wall off the Thruway's Williams ville toll barrier was greeted with disap pointment and anger Friday at a meet ing of officials and residents in Amherst Town Hall. "You want feedback? Stuff it, we don't like it," Amherst Supervisor Jack Sharpe told John H. Shafer, executive director of the Thruway Authority.

"It doesn't come close to addressing the concerns of the neighborhood." Town officials and residents of the Autumn-Linden-Harvest neighbor hood, bothered for years by traffic noise and gasoline and diesel fumes, wanted the toll barrier moved east to a less populated area.

Instead, Shafer said he will recom mend to the Thruway board an expan ded facility to better handle traffic flows, and the construction of 15-foot- high noise barriers for about 1,500 feet on both sides of the toll area.

Informed by Thruway engineer Tony Gregory that air pollutants in the area of the toll barrier "do not exceed any federal or state standards," Nor man J. Constantine of 48 Coventry Road, shot back: "You tell that to the people who sit in back yards on Coventry. I can't even put out lawn furniture. We sit in the garage when people come over. I wast ed my time coming here today."

"You told me last fall that the Thru way wanted to be a good neighbor," William G. Pidgeon of 125 N. Linden St. told Shafer. "This (plan) sure doesn't show it," said Pidgeon, leader of a homeowners association that has been trying to get the toll station moved for years.

Shafer disagreed, replying, "Whatev er you experience today, it will be half that a year from now." The Thruway executive also noted that although noise barriers have been built by the state with tax money, "this will be the first time" they've ever been built by the Thruway Authority, which is funded by tolls.

Constantine invited members of the Thruway delegation to "try sleeping in my bed about 4 o'clock in the morning. (Trucks braking) shake the whole house."

One of eight alternate plans studied by Thruway officials was moving the toll barrier to the rural Gunnville Road area of the Town of Lancaster, a half- mile south of Clarence, at a cost of $8.6 million.

"Obviously we're very pleased it's not coming out here, but I'm sure it's not much of a solution to the people in Williamsville," said George P. Harris of 10511 Westerwald Lane, Clarence, a neighborhood not far from Gunnville Road.

"It's an improvement over what they have now," said Clarence Supervi sor Irving W. Grenzebach, whose Town Board had opposed moving the barrier to Gunnville Road. "I know it sounds selfish," Grenze bach said after Friday's meeting, "but I never could see what would be solved by transferring the problems from one area to another."

Gregory said the project will expand from 10 to 12 the maximum number of toll lanes at the Williamsville barrier. Fourteen lanes will be needed by 1996, he said. Thruway officials have said tolls will be eliminated by 1996.

"I'm firmly convinced the tolls will never come off because the state simply can't handle it fiscally without them," Sharpe said. "We're talking about a toll facility that's only going to have to get bigger and bigger. This is stop-gap, this is not long-range planning," he told the state officials.

At previous meetings, Thruway offi cials had indicated that it would be difficult to justify the expense of build ing a new toll barrier when the tolls were due to be eliminated in just seven years.

The alternate selected by the Thru way officials "is the quickest (nine- month construction timetable) and most inexpensive and it provides for future expansion," Shafer told the meeting. In addition, Shafer said building a toll barrier in a new location would require environmental-impact studies, which could delay construction until 1992.

"I totally disagree" that construction of a new toll barrier in a sparsely popu lated area would have more environ mental impact "than adding to some thing that is already environmentally damaging," Sharpe argued.

He warned the Thruway delegation not to bypass review provisions of the state Environmental Quality Review Act. "If you don't do it right, you'll be in court doing it," Sharpe said.

There are no comments - be the first to comment