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Pleading for safety on Southwestern Boulevard

Residents living along a stretch of Southwestern Boulevard in Hamburg had suggestions for the state Monday on how to improve safety on their road: Lower the speed, reconfigure the lanes or erect a traffic signal at Pleasant Avenue.

And the family of a Thruway toll worker who was killed on the road in July agreed.

“They need to do something,” said Colleen V. Niemiec, of Grand Island, whose brother, Ronald M. “Ronnie” Mroz Sr., 68, of Buffalo, died from injuries he received when he was riding in the front seat of his son’s car. His son and grandson also were injured.

Niemiec attended the meeting with her daughter, and Mroz’s daughter, Lori. They said they did not want another family to receive a call like the one they did.

The vehicle in which Mroz rode was between two pickup trucks headed east when it was struck from behind, police said.

“He was a great person,” Niemiec said of her brother, adding that the family wants the road made safer.

Residents at the Villas at Brierwood have been working for about six months to let local and state officials know they are concerned about the road between Pleasant Avenue and Amsdell Road.

There are 52 condominiums in the Villas today, and there are 90 more planned, said Clifford P. Huen, president of the homeowners association. The development on Southwestern (Route 20) is about 5 years old.

The association asked for a chance to confer with state Department of Transportation officials, and Assemblyman Sean M. Ryan, D-Buffalo, organized Monday’s meeting.

The state is completing a traffic study of the area, said DOT spokeswoman Susan S. Surdej.

The typical study looks at the most recent three years of accident data, said Otto A. Wieand, regional safety evaluation engineer for the DOT.

“There was a study performed between 2010 and ’13. We’re trying to update that information,” he said.

That study showed that the number of accidents along that section was not enough to warrant road modifications at the time, state officials said. There are about 16,000 vehicles driving on that section each day, Surdej said.

The study is expected to be finished by the spring. There are various options, Surdej said, and whatever is done must fit in with the adjacent sections.

“We’re looking beyond Pleasant,” she said. “It might make sense to go further down.”

Residents said that they don’t want to wait a long time and that they don’t want to see another serious accident, or near-miss.

“We need help,” Huen said.

email: bobrien@buffnews.com