Recent informational sessions and media reports have indicated that Route 5 in Hamburg from Pleasant Avenue to Old Big Tree Road is the "region's deadliest highway" with a "greater than expected" accident rate. Sensational television reports and propaganda released by the Coalition of Lakeshore Taxpayers are not factual and only assist in creating division in our region.
According to studies under way by Bergmann Associates, the accident rate in that area of Route 5 is 2.57 per million vehicle miles in comparison to the state average of 6.07 for similar four-lane highways. While we are proponents of safe highways, the study does not indicate a high accident rate.
It also has been indicated that driver error and excessive speed have contributed to the accident rate on that section of Route 5. These factors are obviously a major cause of traffic accidents on any highway.
Spokesmen for the taxpayers' coalition allege that a great majority of speeders are from the Evans-Angola area. We question the accuracy of that statement and ask: Does it matter where the speeders reside? Speeding is unsafe regardless of the address. We support the current efforts of the police to enforce the speed limit.
It also appears that left turns create a portion of the traffic hazards. Turning "pockets" or turning lanes at selected intersections seem to be a viable solution to alleviating this problem. If the state has rights to 66 feet of roadway, it certainly is feasible to place turning pockets with green arrows at busy intersections. Utilizing all of the state right of way property will reduce traffic hazards and not impinge on property owners.
We must remember that Route 5 belongs to all of the citizens of New York State, not just the residents along that four-mile stretch. The residents' concern for their property values is legitimate.
However, we must find a compromise. We believe the solution lies in "middle" turning pockets, enforcing speed limits and retaining the four-lane configuration that is so necessary for all residents in the Southtowns.
The study by Bergmann Associates indicates that traffic moves smoothly on Route 5 -- even at peak periods. With the accident rate lower than expected and traffic moving smoothly, why are we considering major changes?
And members of
Evans Town Board