Breaking News
More () »

NYSDOT reaction to Niagara Falls Boulevard Pedestrian Road Safety Audit

A 2 On Your Side investigation led to a study of pedestrian safety on Niagara Falls Boulevard. And we're holding people in power accountable, now that the result of that audit is now publicly available.
niagara falls boulevard aerial

AMHERST, N.Y. - Now that local engineers have pin-pointed some glaring pedestrian safety issues on Niagara Falls Boulevard, 2 On Your Side asked New York State Department of Transportation what they plan to do with that information.

Western New York DOT spokesperson, Susan Surdej tells Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Emily Lampa that they are aware of the walking audit conducted on June 25, and they're waiting to receive the final draft of the report once it's accepted by the Amherst Town Board on October 1.

MORE: New "Niagara Falls Boulevard Pedestrian Road Safety Audit" released

We asked Surdej why it took the initiative of two local towns to expose these deficiencies, and if the state DOT monitors the functionality of the signals, equipment, and safety of its roadways. Surdej responded, "Do we take a proactive approach? No. Because we are constantly putting in new equipment, but we do address concerns and fix problems as soon as they are brought to our attention."

MORE: 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

Surdej added, despite what is outlined in the audit, the state doesn't plan to make any significant safety improvements to Niagara Falls Boulevard until the completion of their own corridor study, expected to wrap up in Fall 2019.

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

"It's really unacceptable," said State Senator, Mike Ranzenhofer, who represents the district which encompasses Niagara Falls Boulevard. "I mean, the state has really turned a deaf ear, up until this point in time. And we now really need to make them focus."

Ranzenhofer tells 2 On Your Side he has been pressuring the state for three years now to act, "Just the entire delay up until this point in time...the foot dragging...what appears to be the lack of concern for the residents, to me, it just doesn't seem like the state DOT or the Governor really care too much or really want to get involved in the situation. And again, we just have to keep on plugging away to let them know how important it is."

Back in June, Ranzenhofer was one of a number of local and state leaders who expressed support for the walking audit. It was a joint effort between the Towns of Amherst and Tonawanda.

MORE: Leaders demand changes along NF Blvd

Town engineers walked from Ridge Lea Road north to East Robinson Road. While that is only a portion of the corridor, that two and a half mile stretch is the site of six pedestrian fatalities over the past five years.

Now that the audit is complete, Sen. Ranzenhofer believes now is the time to make some changes.

"Really this (audit) was a reaffirmation of what we knew," stated Ranzenhofer, "but it was good to see professionals, you know...who are engineers and experts in traffic safety actually do the study and come up with this report."

The audit team observed and pinpointed dozens of deficiencies along the roadway.

MORE: Difficulty enforcing jaywalking on Niagara Falls Blvd.

MORE: NYSDOT response to another pedestrian fatality on NF Blvd

The Town of Amherst says they notified the NYSDOT about their findings periodically since June, well before the public release of their final report.

Surdej claims they made some of the smaller fixes, but wouldn't specify what was fixed and where.

Some of the deficiencies outlined in the report having to do with land use, sidewalks, zoning, and lighting are the responsibility of the bordering towns, Amherst and Tonawanda.

Amherst Town Supervisor, Brian Kulpa, says they are still in the process of trying to figure out how they will attack those problems.

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

MORE: Walking Deadly: Study says fatal pedestrian crashes up

In terms of funding, the state does have money set aside to fix Niagara Falls Blvd because the state designated the roadway a "focus corridor" in the state's Pedestrian Safety Action Plan.

MORE: Looking into more dangerous WNY roads

Before You Leave, Check This Out