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TRAFFIC DILEMMA HAS RESIDENTS FEELING LEFT BEHIND

After a $3.3 million project to rebuild the Union-William-Losson roads intersection in Cheektowaga, 13 homeowners think the state could have saved the price of a "No Left Turn" sign and saved them some grief getting out of their street.

They live on Sunset Road, a dead-end street off Union Road between William Street and Losson Road. The only way off the street is to turn onto Union. Since the state erected a "No Left Turn" sign last week, they can only turn right, or south, on Union.

Some residents have suggested in letters to town and state officials that since they can't turn left, they can't head toward Town Hall to pay their taxes and are forced to go into West Seneca and Lancaster for shopping. They'd like the sign removed and replaced with a traffic signal or left turns restricted only during certain hours.

"Why should a street be barred from making a left-hand turn if possible?" said Velma Young, who lives on the corner of Union and Sunset. Her address is on Union, but her driveway is on Sunset. "It seems ridiculous, when people can pull out of their driveways onto Union Road."

"My wife has to go north to go to work every morning," said George Rogowski of Sunset.

In a letter to various officials, his wife, Linda, lays out the problem: "Do I turn south then make a U-turn on Union? Or do all 13 families turn around in a private driveway all day to go north? Maybe I could try to get over two lanes and get into the left turning lane to Losson and turn left into Tim Hortons or McDonald's? Or I could possibly go down 2 miles to the next intersection, turn left and turn around in the Ames plaza and then drive back and get into the traffic lane on Union going north? I give up. Which is legal and makes the most sense?"

Assembly Majority Leader Paul M. Tokasz, D-Cheektowaga, said discussions about prohibiting left turns have taken place throughout the planning and construction, which added a left turning lane for northbound and southbound traffic on Union. There is concern that motorists exiting Sunset would not be able to turn left safely onto the widened road.

"I think it's a dangerous situation," he said, adding that he has asked the state to investigate the possibility of placing a traffic signal at Sunset.

He sent a letter to residents last week, pledging to continue to work with the Department of Transportation to find a solution.

"A traffic signal may seem like a solution to this problem," he wrote, "but when taking into account the 40,000 vehicles that travel this portion of Union Road each day, it may not be the best solution available."

"What are 13 people? We pay our taxes too. We want to be able to get out of our street," Rogowski said. "It's a dead-end. We can't go any other way."

Town officials have weighed in on the problem too, and have asked the town's Traffic Safety Commission to look into it. The refurbished road "for many of us means the end of headaches," but means more problems for Sunset residents, said Councilwoman Patricia A. Jaworowicz.

Lt. Mark E. Nacke, Police Department liaison to the Traffic Safety Commission, said he thinks traffic will regulate itself at the intersection.

"They've had problems for years making a left," he said. "People have lived there long enough. They know when they can make a left and not make a left."

Young said she often made right turns when traffic is heavy.

"I think anybody with common sense would do the same thing," she said.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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