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The Town of Hamburg pushed for a speed reduction on Southwestern Boulevard in 1996, and the next year the speed limit was dropped from 55 mph to 50.

Today there is another request sitting in the state Department of Transportation regional office in Buffalo: to speed up the creation of center turn lanes.

Paul Knab, assistant regional planning and program manager for the DOT, said the turn lanes are scheduled to be constructed in 2005 and 2006.

"That's just too long for us, with the number of accidents we have out there," said Hamburg Councilwoman Kathleen Courtney Hochul.

Police reports show that 870 accidents occurred on the Hamburg section of the highway between January 1997 and August 2001, she said, and there have been six fatalities there during that time.

"That's very troubling to us," she said.

The majority of accidents on the road are rear-end collisions of vehicles stopped to make a left turn. Constructing a turn lane in the center of the four-lane highway would remove the left-turning vehicles from the traffic lane.

Hochul and State Sen. Dale M. Volker sent letters to the DOT this month, asking the department to accelerate the road improvements, particularly in front of the Buckingham Lane/Nottingham Terrace subdivision.

"We're going to be looking at expediting it," Knab said.

He said construction of the center turn lane is being split into two sections: from South Park Avenue to California Road in Orchard Park and from Amsdell Road to South Park in Hamburg. The South Park-to-California section is scheduled for 2005, while the Hamburg section would be completed the next year.

"We're designing both those sections at one time," Knab said. "The funding doesn't allow us to construct those in the same year."

He said as funding levels change, adjustments in projects sometimes need to be adjusted as well.

Volker also asked the DOT to consider the installation of traffic signals near Buckingham and Nottingham and to revisit the issue of the posted speed limit.


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