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Fix eyed for deadly crossing; The Clarence intersection where 4 teens died in 2009 may get a safety upgrade, but county officials warn installing a traffic light could take more than 2 years

The scene of one of the most horrific car crashes in recent years may finally get the traffic signal that some residents say is desperately needed.

But Erie County officials caution the process would take time and support from the Town of Clarence.

The county is considering putting a blinking traffic light at the intersection at County and Strickler roads, where four teens died in 2009. The County-Strickler intersection is within town boundaries, but because they are county roads the county has authority over any changes.

"We would need a resolution from the town requesting the county install something like that," said John C. Loffredo, the county's commissioner of public works. The county would then look to the federal government to see if it could obtain funds for such a project.

But the "process does not move fast," Loffredo said, estimating that the soonest a blinking light could be installed would be "two-plus years."

Town Councilman Bernard J. Kolber said he plans to sponsor a resolution at the board's Wednesday meeting, urging the county to make safety improvements at the intersection, whether that means a blinking light, a four-way stop, a lower speed limit on County or some combination of ideas.

"I'll bring it up with the board and see what they want to do," Kolber said. "All I want is a safe intersection."

In the meantime, crashes continue to occur at the intersection.

The intersection is a two-way stop. Vehicles on that section of County have a speed limit of 55 mph and travel unimpeded across Strickler. Vehicles on Strickler have a 45 mph speed limit as they approach stop signs at County.

In November 2009, four teenagers died when a young driver sped through the intersection and the car he was driving was T-boned by a minivan going west on County.

More recently, a two-car accident at the intersection Feb. 4 sent two people to Erie County Medical Center. One car flipped over.

Another two-car crash occurred Dec. 31, resulting in a minor injury to one person.

The Feb. 4 accident involved two vehicles traveling in opposite directions on County. One attempted to turn left onto Strickler when it was struck by a westbound vehicle. In the Dec. 31 accident, a northbound vehicle on Strickler failed to yield to a vehicle on County.

In May 2011, a small school bus flipped over after it was hit by a car that apparently failed to stop at the intersection. No serious injuries were reported.

The bus accident prompted county workers to erect large stop signs at the intersection, plus additional signs warning motorists on Strickler of the upcoming stop signs. But some residents have called for more extensive changes.

Loffredo, the commissioner of public works, said the county would be responsible for maintaining a blinking traffic light.

Traffic signals are used elsewhere on County. To the west, at the intersection with Goodrich Road, there is a full traffic signal, and to the east, there is a blinking light at the intersection with Salt Road.

Theodore C. Donner, the town's highway superintendent, said he believes the County-Strickler intersection would be a good spot for a roundabout, to control speed while keeping traffic flowing.

"I'd love to see one there," he said. But he said he is not sure the county has the funding to cover such a project.

Andrew Harris, who lives near the intersection, said he would like to see the speed limit on that stretch of County lowered to 45 mph. "I just don't just understand why it's 55," he said, noting that there are homes, businesses and a bus garage on that part of the road.

Town Supervisor David C. Hartzell Jr. said the county has been cooperative in addressing safety on County Road. He noted the county previously installed the traffic signal at Goodrich Road, among other improvements.

email: mglynn@buffnews.com