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BROADWAY RAMP SOUGHT TO EASE WILLIAM ST. TRAFFIC

Elected officials have asked the state Thruway Authority to think about adding a Thruway on and off ramp at Broadway in Cheektowaga to alleviate traffic on William Street, which has become a favorite route for intersuburban travel.

Continued complaints about congestion on William have prompted Assemblyman Paul A. Tokasz, D-Cheektowaga, and Supervisor Dennis H. Gabryszak to ask Thruway officials to study the possibility of building Thruway ramps at Broadway near Ludwig Avenue.

Traffic on William has increased dramatically since the 1992 opening of the Thruway's William Street interchange, making William a pass-through for fast-growing Lancaster.

A partial interchange connecting the Thruway with Broadway -- by extending the dead end, commercial-strip Ludwig Avenue and using it as an exit ramp -- may entice some motorists to use Broadway instead of the heavily traveled William-to-Union Road-to-Losson Road corridor.

It could be similar in design to the Thruway's Cleveland Drive exit, Tokasz said.

"We're looking to find a solution to the huge volume of traffic on William," Tokasz said Tuesday. "I understand the frustration. I live right there, near the William Street exit."

A Broadway exit also would provide trucks with easier access to Buffalo because truck traffic is not allowed west of the William Street exit, he added.

"This at least takes some of the traffic going out to Lancaster and the eastern suburbs and gets it off William," Tokasz said.

William G. Leslie, director of the Thruway's Buffalo Division, could not be reached to comment on the proposal Tuesday.

Thruway Authority Executive Director John R. Platt is receptive to having interested parties meet to discuss the issue.

Additional property would be needed to build a ramp at the Broadway-Ludwig site, as would a traffic study, an environmental assessment and a report to justify the project, Platt said in a letter to Tokasz.

Furthermore, funding would have to come from elsewhere, or at least through some innovative financing, because the Thruway's capital program has a bare-bones budget, Platt added.

Tokasz hopes to set up an August meeting with officials from the town, the Thruway Authority, Erie County and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Committee to discuss the new idea.

The NFTC still is working on a study that could lead to a north-south relief road east of Lancaster linked to a proposed interchange on the mainline Thruway at Gunnville Road.

A north-south relief road could be the best alternative to steer Lancaster motorists away from Cheektowaga, but such a solution would likely be years and millions of dollars away.

Meanwhile, the Broadway proposal may be worth considering, Cheektowaga officials said. They realize, however, that another Thruway exit so close to the William Street and Walden Avenue interchanges may not be desirable to Thruway officials.

"It doesn't solve the problem," Gabryszak said of the Broadway concept, "but it may lessen some of the traffic on William. It could change the traffic patterns."

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