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The Amherst Town Board has approved a series of requests from the town School Board to improve traffic and pedestrian safety around the middle school.

The changes include the creation of a "no standing" zone from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. along the south side of Kings Highway running the length of the property belonging to Amherst Middle School. That area also would become a "no passing" zone and U-turns would be prohibited.

The changes came about after the district conducted a study at the middle school and observed speeding, U-turns, jaywalking, parking in restricted zones and vehicles illegally entering school pickup zones. The town also may add a double-yellow line down Kings Highway between Washington Highway and Berryman Drive.

"We have a significant problem when we have cars parked for athletic events in the area of the middle school, particularly when those events coincide with dismissal at the other buildings," said Superintendent Dennis Ford.

The district may also change student dropoff zones for sporting events to alleviate congestion.

Ford and Deputy Superintendent Paul Wietag monitored traffic patterns along with members of the Amherst Police Department and worked with police to reduce the chances of a serious accident around the middle school and nearby high school.

"We have made safety a priority and we are trying to be proactive," Wietag said.

"The real problem was kids crossing between cars, traffic being clogged up, and people making . . . U-turns," said Capt. Enzio G. Villalta, Amherst Police Traffic Bureau commander. "We observed the situation and made suggestions to improve things."

The Police Department has conducted similar traffic safety reviews at Windermere Elementary and with the Williamsville school district, Villalta said.

The department presented its recommendations to the town's Traffic Safety Board, which passed them along to the Town Board. The changes were approved by the Town Board after a public hearing Monday.

Parents and district residents will be notified of the changes by improved signage and a communications outreach coordinated by the district. If the signage does not clear up the problem quickly, additional police enforcement is expected.

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