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New "Niagara Falls Boulevard Pedestrian Road Safety Audit" released

For nearly half a year now, 2 On Your Side has been pressing state and local leaders about making pedestrian safety improvements on Niagara Falls Boulevard. Because of our reporting, they're making changes. We have your first look at the Niagara Falls Boulevard Pedestrian Road Safety Audit:

AMHERST, N.Y. -- The Niagara Falls Boulevard Pedestrian Road Safety Audit, officially released Wednesday, is the result of a joint effort by the towns of Amherst and Tonawanda, which sent out auditors back in June to walk along the corridor and document the pedestrian experience.

The hope is that the data collected will convince the New York State Department of Transportation to make some of the necessary safety improvements now.

MORE: Why wait a year to fix pedestrian problems on Niagara Falls Blvd?

While the state has admitted to 2 On Your Side in previous reports that the Boulevard has safety flaws that need correcting, they're waiting on the outcome of a one year study of the corridor to make significant changes. In June, the NYSDOT started putting in enhanced pavement markings at intersections along the boulevard, after we were told they would be willing to consider some near-term solutions.

MORE: NIAGARA FALLS BLVD: Making sure NYSDOT follows through on improvements

MORE: NYS to make safety improvements to Niagara Falls Boulevard

MORE: DOT starts safety improvement work on NF Blvd

The area covered in the recent walking audit was from Ridge Lea Road north to East Robinson Road.

Over the past five years, there were six pedestrian fatalities on the Boulevard and all six happened in this 2.5 mile stretch.

On June 25, 2018 the audit team saw what 2 On Your Side had been reporting since May...pedestrians and bicyclists darting dangerously across the road outside of marked crosswalks.

MORE: Leaders demand changes along NF Blvd

On their walk audit, the engineers were able to pinpoint dozens of deficiencies that could be contributing to this behavior.

- Lack of crosswalks in areas where pedestrians are likely to cross

- Long distances between signalized intersections

- Excessive pedestrian wait times at signals

- Improperly timed pedestrian signals not giving people enough time to cross

The auditors also found parking lots paved too close to sidewalks, driveways too close to crosswalks and there were also ADA compliance issues.The study found that 10 out of the 11 intersections had issues in terms of handicap accessibility, such as the button being too high, low or far from the curb line.

According to the study, about 53,000 vehicles travel the Boulevard per day at an average speed of about 45 miles per hour. Considering the Boulevard is about one hundred feet across in some areas, it can be extremely difficult for pedestrians to maneuver even in the designated crosswalks.

MORE: Walking Deadly: Niagara Falls Blvd. 'a pedestrian wasteland'

In the area of Ridge Lea Road and the westbound I-290 ramps, city engineers found pedestrians have an even farther distance to cross because of the additional turn lanes and the medians don't extend into the intersection to give pedestrians a place to stop if they absolutely need to.

The Town of Amherst created a Niagara Falls Boulevard Charter in May 2018 to partner with the Town of Tonawanda to assess and improve the entire corridor. We asked when the towns plan to perform a similar walk audit for Niagara Falls Boulevard south of Ridge Lea Road to Main Street.

But the Amherst Town Supervisor tells 2 On Your Side they don't have plans in place to assess the three and half mile section just yet.

This walk audit report is on the agenda to be accepted at Amherst's next town board meeting. Once this final draft is accepted, it will be sent to the NYSDOT.

View the entire Niagara Falls Boulevard Pedestrian Road Safety Audit, here:

NFB Pedestrian Road Safety Audit Sept 2018 by WGRZ-TV on Scribd

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