Motorists tired of bottlenecks in Cheektowaga's William Street/Union Road/Losson Road commuter corridor have a stake in the state Transportation Infrastructure Bond Act, which goes before voters in November, officials said Tuesday.
The $3.8 billion bond issue -- the largest borrowing proposal in state history -- includes $500,000 in planning money to build a Thruway exit at Broadway, announced Assemblyman Paul A. Tokasz, D-Cheektowaga.
Studies show that the new interchange would take a big load off the William-Union-Losson corridor -- used by thousands of motorists traveling between Buffalo and the eastern suburbs of Cheektowaga and Lancaster each day -- by providing a more direct east-west route, Tokasz said.
In June, the Cheektowaga Town Board asked regional and state agencies to work toward a Broadway interchange project, using $3.5 million in federal transportation funds already allocated to the town to relieve congestion along the William-Union-Losson route.
Council Member Thomas M. Johnson Jr., Cheektowaga's transportation and environment chief, said that while he is "extremely pleased" that the bond act includes money for the new ramps, important hurdles remain.
The project has the backing of the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Committee but has not yet been placed in the state Department of Transportation's five- or 10-year transportation-improvement program, or TIP, Johnson said.
"That's our next goal, to get it on the TIP, and the money Mr. Tokasz is seeking should help in that endeavor," Johnson said.
If approved by the state's voters, the $3.8 billion raised by the bond act would be pooled with funds already in place to create a five-year, $34.2 billion transportation program for mass-transportation projects in New York City and its suburbs and improvements to roads, bridges and the state canal system, according to the state DOT.
"A new interchange at Broadway would relieve local traffic congestion, particularly the William-Union-Losson corridor," Tokasz said.
"It would also spur economic development in this section of Cheektowaga, which is an established manufacturing area. (The new interchange) would not only be a great asset to companies already located there, but would encourage other businesses to build along this industrial corridor," the assemblyman said.
An added plus, Tokasz said, would be more efficient rail-to-truck transfer of goods at a Norfolk Southern Corp. terminal just east of the Thruway, near rail yards south of Broadway.
With easy Thruway access, trucks would not have to use local roads, Tokasz noted.
In a related matter, the assemblyman announced that the transportation bond act also includes $1 million for the CSX Intermodal Transflo Terminal on William Street, allowing an expansion from 27 to 48 acres at a facility where Tokasz said business has doubled in the last year.
"The expansion will allow more local shippers to use intermodal freight service, which will lead to lower transportation costs and less truck traffic," Tokasz said.
But Johnson said the price of expansion at the former Bison railroad yards "must include noise and aesthetic buffers along the southern boundary with the Sandy Lane subdivision."