Street lights will be installed next year along a stretch of Niagara Falls Boulevard where five pedestrians have been struck and killed since 2013.
The nearly $1 million project between the towns of Amherst and Tonawanda calls for new lights along the 3.3 miles from the I-290 north to the border with Niagara County to improve pedestrian safety and driver visibility.
The project's total cost of $935,000, includes $295,000 from Amherst and $640,000 in federal aid. Construction is scheduled to begin in July.
"We asked the (state Department of Transportation) what we could do to improve safety on Niagara Falls Boulevard and this is the project they came up with," said Amherst Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein.
The five pedestrians killed in a 1.7-mile stretch of the boulevard were hit by cars at reported times of 5 a.m., 5:43 a.m., 6:40 a.m., 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Police have said that at least three of the accident victims were crossing the five-lane boulevard to get to bus stops. Some of the pedestrians were wearing dark clothing during non-daylight hours. At least two were crossing against a traffic light. One woman was not in a crosswalk when she was struck by a car.
This stretch of the boulevard is used daily by 42,729 motorists, according to the most recent count.
Relatives of some of the victims expressed support for the project in comments submitted to the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council.
"Although it may not eliminate all accidents, I believe that just lighting the boulevard would help," said Carol Milbrand of Wheatfield, whose brother, John C. Strasser, was killed Aug. 30, 2016, while crossing to a bus stop.
Citizens for Regional Transit and Amherst police are also supportive of the measure.
"Any measures taken to improve vehicle and pedestrian safety are welcomed," said Amherst police Capt. Kevin Brown, head of the department's Accident Investigation Unit. "We would encourage motorists and pedestrians to be vigilant of their surroundings."
Amherst Town Engineer Jeffrey Burroughs said lighting will be concentrated on intersections and bus stops.
"I think for sure it's going to improve visibility in those areas," he said. "There's not sufficient lighting at any of these intersections."
The lights will be staggered, with one light about every 300 feet on alternating sides of the boulevard, Burroughs said. Lights will be installed on existing utility poles on the Tonawanda side, but new poles will need to be installed on the Amherst side.
"We don't have that extensive network on our side," Burroughs said.
The project is entering the design phase now, and the Amherst Town Board is expected to consider hiring a design consultant at its next meeting on Oct. 30.
Amherst is planning a separate project in 2019 to improve lighting along both sides of Sweet Home Road between Maple Road and the I-990. That project is expected to cost $775,000.