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DEATHS PROMPT CALL FOR SAFER INTERSECTIONS

A mother held a picture of her smiling daughter Tuesday and pleaded for stop signs and warning devices at rural roads in North Collins and Eden intersections where 36 people have died in the last 10 years.

Richard Bley, a North Collins volunteer firefighter, described how he has responded to many accidents at intersections of Route 249, including a May 23 crash at Ketchum Road.

That was where he found his son Jason and his son's best friend, John Tezyk, dead in the wreckage.

But New York and Erie County highway officials told Susan Manfreda, Bley and others that the number of Eden-North Collins accidents is not at a level to meet requirements set out in a state manual to get higher levels of traffic control.

Erie County legislators demanded to know why state manual guidelines override community concerns about 36 deaths.

"Those stupid guidelines don't favor the people in that community," said Legislator Raymond K. Dusza, D-Cheektowaga.

Mrs. Manfreda, weeping and passing out snapshots of the intersection where Shanna Manfreda was killed, found county legislators of both political parties backing her up, so something could change.

Shanna Manfreda, 21, was killed Aug. 5 as she waited at a stop sign when her car was crushed by a van that had collided with another van at the intersection of state Route 249 with Jennings Road, a county road.

"This was my daughter until she was brutally mutilated because someone had no regard for her life," said Mrs. Manfreda, who argued that a
four-way stop might have saved her daughter's life. "She was just sitting there waiting her turn. It was a beautiful, dry, sunny day."

There have been 11 fatalities in North Collins in the past 13 months, with seven killed in one collision at Ketchum and Genesee, both county roads, and three at Ketchum and Route 249.

"Since 1965, we have tried to get signs," Bley said, adding that there have been many other non-fatal accidents at the intersection, ranging from fender-benders to those causing serious injury.

His wife, Kathryn, held up the picture of Jason and John, who were traveling on Route 249 when their car was struck by a vehicle coming from Ketchum. She said stop signs would have saved their lives and begged the officials not to offer her another study of traffic flow.

"That stretch of road has not one stop sign from Langford to North Collins, a distance of more than four miles," Mrs. Bley said. "There's not one stop sign, not a blinking light -- nothing -- on Route 249, a state road."

Mrs. Manfreda urged four-way signs at the intersections, preceded by warnings that a stop sign is ahead and "rumble strips" -- divots cut in the highway to make tires vibrate -- to slow traffic.

Deputy County Public Works Commissioner David P. Comerford said all intersections with a state highway are under control of the state Department of Transportation and its Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

Kenneth Kosnikowski, representing the state DOT, agreed that drivers speed on Route 249.

"At this point, I don't know if putting a sign at every intersection is reasonable," he said.

Kosnikowski repeatedly said he would seek an interview with his superior, state regional engineer James Barnack.

"We want to do what we reasonably can," he said.

"You don't have to be a Rhodes scholar to put up four-way stop signs," said Legislator Edward J. Kuwik, D-Lackawanna, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, before which the parents and officials spoke. "The manual is not working. Something else should be done."

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