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Amherst officials Wednesday agreed to look into the feasibility and cost of the town assuming responsibility for plowing, sanding and salting work on all state and county roads in the town.

The death Monday night of a Niagara County woman in a three-car crash at ice-covered Millersport Highway and New Road was described as "the catalyst, the rationale" for the proposal by Amherst Councilman Harold J. Collier.

According to police logs, more than three hours elapsed between the time that town police first asked that Millersport be sanded or salted and the fatal accident.

Millersport is one of several state roads in Amherst for which the county is responsible for snow and ice control.

Monday night, Amherst police logs showed five calls to state, county and town transportation or highway crews to salt or sand so-called "black ice" on Millersport between Transit and New. The first call was at 7:56 p.m. The fatal accident occurred at 11:18 p.m.

"It seems ludicrous" for Amherst Highway Department crews not to plow, sand or salt the state and county highways they travel en route to their own routes, especially when neither the state nor the county maintains a truck garage in Amherst, Collier said during an afternoon Town Board meeting.

There are 292 miles of town roads, 65 miles of county roads and 46 miles of state roads in Amherst. Since the town by contract already maintains 39 of the 65 miles of county roads, the proposal would entail an additional 72 miles for town workers.

Collier's proposal drew immediate fire from Councilman Lawrence Southwick Jr., the board's senior member.

"I disagree totally," said Southwick, who pointed to "a liability problem" and the resulting need for more employees "at tremendous cost."

"We must also look to the future," Southwick said. "As we assume more and more responsibility, the county and state will look at turning over all their roads to us for total maintenance, and I don't want to see that."

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