I recently attended an informational meeting on the traffic calming study for Route 5 in the Town of Hamburg, specifically a stretch of land from Old Lake Shore Road to Old Big Tree Road. This meeting was held so that the state Department of Transportation could get various points of view from the many people who drive this stretch of road. Unfortunately, I left with the feeling that the DOT already had made up its mind to reduce the road from four lanes to three.
This should not be done. I live in Derby, right off of Route 5. I travel to work downtown five days a week during all seasons. The DOT and some Hamburg residents think I should go to Route 20 and then cut back to Route 5 at Camp Road to avoid passing through this area. Why should I go out of my way when I pay the same taxes for that road as the residents in that community?
Everyone who travels Route 5 in the winter knows that the four lanes are usually reduced to two during a snowstorm. The drivers themselves seem to make the one lane that exists each way. Apparently, the DOT doesn't know that the majority of people leave for work between 7 and 9 a.m. and then return home between 4 and 6 p.m. The state should have the road plowed by then. I already leave early on bad-weather days, so don't suggest that I leave earlier, which is what I heard at the meeting.
Making this section three lanes would only stall traffic in winter if there was an accident, because there would be no lane for the other cars to pass. We could be stalled on Route 5 for hours. As anyone who now drives this section knows, when there is an accident it makes you late for work.
When I get to work late because of an accident on the new three-lane road, I guess I'll have to tell my state employer that because of its stupidity in allowing the DOT to reduce Route 5 to three lanes, I will probably be late on certain days. And since we state employees are all one big, happy family, my employer will understand and not make me take time off my sign-in sheet. Or maybe the DOT can put up big electronic signs like it did for the Skyway and Father Baker bridges to let drivers know if there is a delay so we can detour to avoid it. I'm sure it'll get used just like the one near the Ford plant. Since that one has been put up, I've never seen it used. More taxpayer money wasted.
Some of the Hamburg residents have it in their heads that I want to get to Buffalo faster and that's why I travel through "their" section of town. No, I just don't feel like wasting gas to go around in a square when a straight line will do. The residents in that area do not live in a gated community. If that's what they want, perhaps those of us who drive through the area and stop at their stores, gas stations and restaurants should stop doing so and see if they can live without us.
Why would the DOT do a study to see if this section should be reduced to three lanes, when for the last 20 years the amount of travel has increased because of new housing developments in the Southtowns, including Hamburg? Where is the logic?
The DOT and Hamburg residents talk about wanting a "calming effect" on this section of road. This can be achieved by installing traffic signals. Make people stop more. It will make it easier for people to get out of their driveways and to cross the street. More lights are needed, not less lanes.
LORRAINE CECCARELLI, a Family Court worker, lives in Derby.
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