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NYSDOT response to another pedestrian fatality on NF Blvd

After another pedestrian fatality this weekend on Niagara Falls Blvd, 2 On Your Side follows up with NYSDOT to find out if they still plan to complete a year-long study before making any safety changes.

TONAWANDA, N.Y. — We're the station that holds people in power accountable. And after another deadly accident, it's clear something needs to change along Niagara Falls Boulevard.

Friday, we took tough questions to a state lawmaker about the fact that changes wouldn't come for a year - at least.

Just hours later, a woman was hit and killed crossing the boulevard.

The driver isn't facing charges, but a person is dead. And this is the sixth pedestrian fatality on the NFB in five years, according to the town of Amherst.

2 On Your Side reached out to the New York State Department of Transportation Monday, who turned down our request for an on camera interview. This was their e-mailed response:

We were deeply saddened to learn of the accident on Niagara Falls Boulevard on Saturday. Safety is our top priority and we are actively looking for ways to enhance safety for pedestrians and motorists alike. To that end, DOT has already hired a consultant who will begin a comprehensive study of Niagara Falls Boulevard shortly with the goal of taking a systemic approach to proactively examining potential safety issues along the corridor. DOT is also working closely with the Town of Tonawanda and the Town of Amherst to identify potential solutions to the pedestrian issues on Niagara Falls Boulevard

We spoke to Town of Tonawanda Supervisor, Joe Emminger, who tells 2 On Your Side he and the Supervisor of Amherst, Brian Kulpa, talked over the weekend and again Monday morning because of the recent fatality.

"Supervisor Kulpa and I and going to be sitting down later this week to try and speed things up along that avenue," said Emminger, "and we’re hopeful also to sit down with our state representatives, as well; to, you know, push this thing forward."

He says a meeting between the two towns and NYSDOT should be happening within the next few weeks.

They want to hear from traffic engineers about safety options and whether they might work on the Boulevard. They're looking at everything from roundabouts to pedestrian bridges, mid-block crosswalks, slowing down speed or even reducing lanes. They are even considering public awareness campaigns.

We asked about putting in more sidewalks and Emminger tells us it’s not an easy option, because depending on the right of way that could be the responsibility of business owners.

The State DOT maintains that improvements can’t be made until after the comprehensive study of the NFB is complete, and we’re told that won’t likely be done until next summer.

"These things are complicated issues that we’re talking about," Emminger said of the year-long study. "And we certainly don’t want to do something that isn’t going to solve the problem."

2 On Your Side spoke to NYS Assemblyman Robin Schimminger again after our conversation last week, when he told us he would put pressure on NYSDOT to make improvements a top priority.

He said Monday that he hasn't reached out to them yet but plans to within the week, "We’re in the process of reaching out and we may be joined by some other legislators also in that effort.”

2 On Your Side reached out to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, as well. We are still waiting for a response.

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