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ROUTE 5 RUSH-HOUR TIE-UPS LINKED TO LANE CHANGES STIR COMPLAINTS

A recent restriping of a heavily traveled portion of Route 5 in Hamburg has drawn a number of complaints from residents who are unhappy with rush hour tie-ups.

According to the project manager, Kenneth Kuminski, the state Department of Transportation has received approximately 800 calls, e-mails and letters from residents complaining that afternoon rush hour traffic slows, or stops, along the stretch of Route 5 from Old Lakeshore Road to Old Big Tree Road.

This length of road was resurfaced the first week of July, changed from two lanes each of inbound and outbound traffic to one lane of outbound traffic, two lanes of inbound and a center turning lane. The main purpose of the change was to increase safety in the mostly residential area by slowing traffic down.

But some residents complain that now traffic is too slow. In addition to the huge influx of letters, e-mails and calls, Kuminski said he has seen a few signs on front lawns protesting the change.

"It's to be expected," Kuminski said, saying that such a large amount of traffic leaving the city in the evening will undoubtedly cause problems, but if the area becomes safer, it may be worth working through. The department also considered changing the road to one lane in each direction with a turning lane in the center but chose the current layout as a compromise.

Since the lane changes are so new, it is too early to gauge whether traffic safety has increased, but the DOT has another resurfacing contract scheduled for fall, when they will decide whether to keep the lanes as they are.

"We have to look at the comments we've received and make an objective decision," Kuminski said. "It's not going to be easy. . . . There could be a lot of unhappy people either way."

e-mail: kjones@buffnews.com

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