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Town of Tonawanda officials call roundabout demo a 'success,' despite resident concerns

Town of Tonawanda officials are still clashing with those who don't want a mini-roundabout at Decatur Road and Parker Boulevard, but they called the three-day demonstration that ended Thursday morning a success.

"It's amazing once people drive through it and take the time to see what it's about," said Councilman John Bargnesi Jr. "Many people have come up to us and said they were against it in the beginning, but now they are OK with it."

Some residents opposed the roundabout before the demonstration even started on Tuesday afternoon.

"I think it's a waste of money and tax dollars to encourage it when people don't want it anyway," Ken Winger told the board at its Monday meeting.

Winger, who lives on Parker Boulevard, has been collecting signatures from those opposed to the roundabout. He continued to collect signatures during the traffic demonstration. He said if the town wants to slow people down they should enforce the speed limit, not put in a roundabout.

Roundabout demonstration at Decatur Road and Parker Boulevard. (Photo courtesy of the Town of Tonawanda)

But Bargnesi said roundabouts slow cars down while also keeping traffic flowing.

During the demonstration, volunteers helped direct traffic since some drivers were unclear about which direction to drive when entering a roundabout, Bargnesi said.

Bargnesi said the town is still in the investigation stages and hasn't made any decisions. The demonstration took about $2,000 for the town to set up. A full overhaul of the street would cost about $750,000.

James Hartz, director of planning and development for the town, said roundabouts are a much safer alternative to four-way stops.

"I saw the mini-roundabout doing what it is supposed to do, slowing vehicle traffic speed down at the intersection so it makes it easier for pedestrians to cross and, by establishing 6-foot bike lanes on either side of the traffic lanes, it also provides a safe bike riding experience," said Hartz.

"Success is different in everybody's eyes," said Supervisor Joseph H. Emminger. "It was a success from the Town Board's perspective because it was a demonstration project engaging the public, which was an overwhelming success."

If the plan is adopted, the mini-roundabout would have a four-inch curb which larger trucks and emergency vehicle could partially drive on. The town was not able to duplicate the center curb in the demonstration.

Emminger said the board would review the video and likely make a final decision to overhaul the entire stretch by the end of the year. If approved, the town would seek $750,000 in funding to overhaul Parker Boulevard between Sheridan Drive and Englewood Avenue.

"Elected officials get into trouble trying to make everybody happy," Emminger said. "People who elect us are not going to agree with us 100 percent of the time."

Comments will be accepted online at Tonawanda Complete Streets.

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