With a one-mile stretch of Broadway in the throes of construction and down to two lanes, the mayor of Depew is calling on state officials to get the road reopened to four lanes before winter sets in.
"The situation that currently exists on Broadway within the village is deplorable," said Mayor Robert M. Kucewicz.
West of Transit Road, a state Department of Transportation reconstruction project has torn up the south side of Broadway, forcing traffic on the major thoroughfare down to two lanes.
Deep gravel pits sit on the south side of Broadway, where the two lanes once were, and will be again -- eventually. Just how soon that will happen, though, is the question looming large in the minds of many in Depew.
The DOT construction project was supposed to have that stretch of Broadway reconstructed and back up to its full four lanes by the end of this year, according to state officials. But Frontier Asphalt, the contractor, pulled out of the job in July, citing financial problems, and work stopped.
After that, the state bonding company that insured the project rebid the contract. The bonding company and A&L Inc. of Pittsburgh are still ironing out the details of their agreement, according to DOT officials.
While they negotiate, the residents of Depew worry.
"If this isn't corrected, how are they going to plow Broadway?" said Madeline DiRienzo, a member of the Depew-Cheektowaga Taxpayers Association. "How could the road be used for traffic if we have a severe winter? Where are they going to push the snow?"
DiRienzo is not alone in her worries.
The Depew School Board has been concerned about the safety of navigating school buses through the restricted lanes of Broadway. Those concerns are multiplying in the face of a quickly approaching winter season and the increased driving dangers it could bring. School officials have sent a letter to the DOT outlining their concerns.
So has the mayor. Kucewicz said during a meeting of the Village Board Monday that he has asked the DOT to present the village and its residents a projected timetable for the completion of the project. He also has asked that the DOT hold weekly meetings to keep officials from the village and the school district updated on the status of the project.
Village trustees said they have received assurances from DOT officials that the road will be open to four lanes before the onset of winter. The trustees want those assurances in writing.
"We've been given personal assurances in the past, and they haven't come through," said Trustee John M. Fragale.
"It's been a nightmare right along. It's just ridiculous," DiRienzo said. "But what can you do? You have to rely on the DOT. It's just promises, promises.