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State DOT resists opposition to Seven Corners realignment

The state Department of Transportation is sticking with its plan for realigning the Seven Corners in Hamburg.

The Hamburg Town Board, in a change, now opposes the plan, and State Sen. William T. Stachowski, D-Buffalo, has called on the DOT to abandon the realignment plan and adopt a cheaper alternative calling for wider lanes and more turning lanes.

The DOT plan would change the "Seven Corners" -- six, actually -- into a regular four-corner intersection by realigning Big Tree Road so that its approaches end before the intersection with Southwestern Boulevard, forming new T-intersections. Southwestern and McKinley Parkway would meet in a regular four-corner intersection.

The work is part of a larger project to widen Southwestern, which is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2007.

Despite the opposition, a DOT spokeswoman said this week that it is standing behind its plan.

"We feel it is best from a safety and capacity standpoint," Susan Surdej said.

She said the department has letters from last May from both the town and the county in support of the plan.

The plan also involves taking the Big Tree Road home of Lester and Teresa Buchanan, who have lived there for 50 years and reared their two sons there.

"If they want your house, they're going to take it," Lester Buchanan said.

He said he is confused by talk of trying to change the project so that acquiring his house by eminent domain would not be necessary.

"I'm in the middle and don't know what . . . is going on," he said.

Buchanan, 77, said appraisers from the state have visited the property but have not given him a dollar figure, so he and his wife cannot yet start looking seriously for a new home.

"We've glanced at a few places, but you can't look until you know what you've got coming in," he said. "At our age, to pick up and move, . . . I just don't like it."

The DOT conducted a public hearing last May on the various proposals. After selecting the realignment option, the department held a public information meeting in September.

Big Tree Volunteer Fire Company, which responds to accidents at the intersection, was the only agency to express opposition, saying that adding two intersections would create additional safety hazards after previous improvements had made the intersection safer.

e-mail: ternst@buffnews.com

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