AMHERST, N.Y. — 2 On Your Side found it will be more than a year before the New York State Department of Transportation makes any pedestrian safety improvements on Niagara Falls Boulevard.
So we asked NYS Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, the man elected to represent that area, if he thinks that's acceptable.
“It certainly does disturb me,” Schimminger told 2 On Your Side’s Emily Lampa. “I’ll be certainly calling on the DOT to put a top, top, top, top priority on this issue.”
We’re told, in recent years, there have been 16 pedestrian deaths in Amherst, five of which occurred on NFB.
Schimminger admits he hasn’t spoken with anyone at DOT recently about pedestrian safety issues on Niagara Falls Blvd.
“I think there is some prudence in, of course, a comprehensive study that is not done overnight,” said Schimminger, “but it seems like end of next summer is quite a long time to wait for. If they can identify, for lack of a better word, low hanging fruit..obvious improvements can be quickly made.”
The state of New York earmarked about $40 million for local cities and towns to make improvements through the Pedestrian Safety Action Plan.
We asked Schimminger how hard he will fight to secure the money necessary to make the improvements on NFB.
“Oh, it will be a top priority for me," Schimminger said. "This is a matter of life and death for families and we want to avoid, to the extent possible, any more pedestrian casualties. Money will be important, and I’ll do my darnedest to get funding for what’s needed.”
Friday afternoon, 2 On Your Side also spoke with Erie County Legislator Tom Loughran who admits the boom of commercial construction along NFB, coupled with lack of communication between Amherst, Tonawanda and the NYSDOT contributed to the boulevard’s pedestrian safety problems.
Loughran believes that communication is improving. Amherst town supervisor Brian Kulpa told us yesterday the towns will be announcing the details of their joint study of NFB, next Wednesday.
The towns are also working with National Grid to improve lighting along the corridor north of the 290.