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Lockport residents have weedy surprise after street repaving

LOCKPORT – The recently completed reconstruction of Lincoln Avenue in Lockport had some residents’ eyes spinning, and the same might happen if they happened to ingest the weeds that sprang up on both sides of the street after the project.

When the topsoil was replaced on front lawns and between the pavement and the sidewalk, scores of jimson weed plants sprang up on both sides of the road. According to Richard W. Eakin, Niagara County deputy public works commissioner for engineering, the flowering plant can be “a powerful hallucinogen.” It is used as such in many traditional cultures worldwide.

The weeds were mowed down Friday on the north side of the street – the south side was done a couple of weeks ago – and the north shoulder in the City of Lockport will be sprayed with herbicide as soon as the weather allows, Eakin said.

The south side, which is in the Town of Lockport, already was sprayed with the weed killer. Eakin said frost also would kill the plants, but the crew didn’t want to wait.

“The object is to kill it before it goes to seed,” Eakin said. “It’s not a big deal to get it under control.”

Jimson weed also is also called stinkweed, devil’s trumpet, locoweed and numerous other nicknames.

For one neighborhood resident, who was told – incorrectly, according to Eakin – that the plant would cause a poison ivy-like effect if touched, the mowing of the weed was good news.

“Having lived here 44 years, we never saw that before,” Ron Antholzner said.

“According to the surveyor who’s doing the work on the job, he’s seen this many times,” Eakin said. “You just don’t see it in people’s front yards, that’s all.”

It’s a mystery how the plant got into the dirt. The excavated soil was piled near a restaurant used as a staging area by Accadia Site Contracting, the Depew contractor that rebuilt the street for the county, and then returned to the front yards and road shoulders after the $7.25 million project was done.

According to a Wikipedia entry, the seeds “can lie dormant underground for years and germinate when the soil is disturbed.”

Antholzner said many residents are unhappy with the poor results from reseeding of their grass. Eakin said summer is generally the worst time to plant grass, and the work area will soon be reseeded “as rain is predicted.”