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LEGISLATOR OFFERS SOLUTION TO STALEMATE OVER SIGNAL

An Erie County legislator thinks she has solved the "chicken or the egg" dilemma preventing a traffic signal from being erected at Legion Drive and Division Street in Hamburg.

The problem for Hamburg has been signing a blank check for the light without knowing if it would solve traffic problems at the intersection. The intersection is busy, particularly in the morning and afternoons when school is in session, and it is difficult for motorists to turn left from Division onto Legion.

Before Erie County would agree to conduct a traffic study of the corner, the town and village of Hamburg had to agree to pay for a traffic signal if it was warranted. The two municipalities have refused to pay for the signal, contending the county should because Legion Drive is a county road. Part of the intersection by the Hamburg High School and Middle School is in the Village of Hamburg and part is in the Town of Hamburg.

"We had to move off center," said Erie County Legislator Jeanne Z. Chase, R-Evans.

Chase said she has come up with a way for the county to conduct a study and erect the signal if it is needed, providing the town and village maintain it.

"It's not going to eliminate all the responsibility for the town and village," Chase said.

She said she has secured a surplus three-color traffic signal and is pursuing federal funding to help pay to install the device. The signal and installation could be made available free to the town and village if the local governments agree to accept and maintain it, she said.

"We'll do the study. We should be able to do the installation. I'm extremely hopeful we'll have the equipment," she said.

The cost of installing the signal could run $80,000 to $100,000. Chase said she is pursuing federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds, and added that the intersection, with automobiles and buses idling sometimes for long periods of time while they wait to turn from Division onto Legion, appears to qualify for the grants.

"Until we have the study done, everything else is up in the air," she said.

Chase noted that it has been Erie County's policy for years to have the county pay for traffic studies of county-town intersections while requiring the local government to purchase, erect and maintain the signal.

Hamburg town and village officials were encouraged by The News, but still concerned over the cost.

"We'd certainly entertain a three-way cost sharing with the county," Hamburg Town Councilwoman Kathleen Courtney Hochul said. "It's definitely a step in the right direction."

"We're all looking for a win-win situation," Hamburg Village Mayor John S. Thomas said. "We all agree it's needed there. I think we have to get beyond boundaries and work together."

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