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Amherst moves closer to installing traffic signal at corner where teen was killed

Finally, there’s movement on installing a traffic signal at Maple and Culpepper roads in Amherst, where a teenager was killed in 2012.

The Town of Amherst has agreed to borrow the $140,000 to pay for the signal. The town also hired the engineering firm DiDonato Associates to perform the design work for the project, at a low bid of $10,700.

“This is the first step to getting it done,” said Councilmember Mark A. Manna.

The design work should be done by September and town officials are hopeful the initial construction could be completed by the end of the year, but they wouldn’t speculate on when the signal would be operating.

The neighborhood has been waiting three years.

When Erin Suszynski, 13, was fatally injured crossing the street near the playground she loved, her parents set up a charity to pay for crosswalks at every playground that needs them – starting with the site of the tragedy on Maple Road in Amherst. So far, “Erin’s Crossings” has raised roughly $100,000 to provide a crossing that’s safe.

But Erin’s legacy has languished in government bureaucracy. Amherst performed a traffic study at the site where Erin was struck on June 9, 2012. and received consent from Erie County, which owns Maple, but the project never got off the ground. The town never allocated the money.

The issue came to a head when Erin’s parents, Mary and Jerry Suszynski, along with three-dozen other supporters took their fight to Town Hall during a public meeting in June. Manna sponsored a resolution requesting that the town start the process for a crossing and signal – all at town expense. The Town Board unanimously agreed.

The Town Board followed up at Monday’s meeting by agreeing to borrow the money for the signal and hiring DiDonato.

In other business, the board held a public hearing on rezoning nearly six acres for a proposed self-storage facility at 4391 Maple Road, adjacent to the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel on Flint Road, across from the University at Buffalo North Campus.

The developer for years has explored options for the parcel, but abandoned all other possibilities because of the Niagara Mohawk power lines running parallel with the parcel. The board set a July 20 decision date.