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DOT adds guide rail reflectors at site of two Humboldt Parkway crashes

Following two accidents at the same Humboldt Parkway guide rail, the state Department of Transportation is conducting inspections of the barrier, and also adding reflectors to make the rails more visible to motorists.

“State Department of Transportation staff is inspecting railing along Humboldt Parkway where it runs alongside the Kensington Expressway,” Susan S. Surdej, spokeswoman and assistant to the DOT assistant regional director, said Monday. “We have heard community concern about traffic safety on the parkway and will be adding reflectors to enhance the visibility of the railing there.”

The DOT will decide if additional improvements are needed, she said, after Buffalo police complete their investigation into a Nov. 29 accident, when a car plunged through the guide rails on Humboldt Parkway at Glenwood Avenue, plummeting onto Route 33 some 25 to 30 feet below.

Surdej mentioned the DOT activities when asked by The Buffalo News if the agency had any response to recent community requests for the department to inspect and upgrade the guide rails.

Those requests came following the Nov. 29 crash, which is still being investigated by police. The driver survived that crash, but a 47-year-old Buffalo man was killed when his speeding vehicle crashed through those same Humboldt Parkway guardrails, just two blocks away, in April 2014.

Following the second crash, residents started a petition, which was signed by more than 100 people and then sent to Masten Council Member Ulysees O. Wingo Sr. The petition asked that the DOT replace the crumbling and cracked concrete and aluminum bridge rails at the Humboldt Parkway site with more sturdy and more attractive barriers. They cited the Jersey barriers used along a stretch of the Kensington closer to downtown, from the Cherry Street ramp to the Best Street ramp, as an example of what they would like to see installed on both sides of the Humboldt Parkway stretch between East Ferry and East Utica streets.

“There is insufficient barrier protection in the event a car hits the steel/aluminum rails which have been there since the installation of the 33 Kensington Expressway,” states the petition, which was spearheaded by Shannon Waddell-Brown, estranged wife of Kevin W. Brown, who was killed in the 2014 crash at Humboldt Parkway and Woodlawn Avenue.

Wingo and Council President Darius G. Pridgen, who represents the Ellicott District, responded to the petition with a resolution asking the state to conduct a safety study of the Humboldt guardrails.

“We don’t want another death,” Wingo said.

Surdej said the DOT has not yet seen the petitions. “Both guide rail and concrete barriers are designed to deflect errant vehicles to help keep them on the roadway,” she said. “Neither is designed to withstand a high-speed, head-on collision.” “We are awaiting the results of the ongoing police investigation into the recent crash. ... Once all the information is in about the crash and the railing inspections, we will determine if additional enhancements are warranted.”

In the Nov. 29 accident, a vehicle crashed through the guide rail along Humboldt Parkway at Glenwood and plummeted onto the Kensington Expressway below, authorities said. The vehicle’s front-end was badly damaged and debris was scattered across the westbound lanes of the expressway. Police suspect the crash was tied to a shooting that occurred a short time earlier, about 8:30 p.m., on Purdy Street.

email: sschulman@buffnews.com