Weekly Feature

2018-02-14 / Front Page

Four-way stop coming to Salt-County intersection

50-mph speed limit will remain

For residents of Salt and County roads, recently completed traffic studies reinforced the narrative that drivers are surpassing the speed limit at that intersection.

The studies weren’t, however, enough to warrant lowering that limit, which residents say is the only solution to prevent major accidents.

From the town line that separates Clarence from Newstead on Hunts Corners Road, the speed limit is 50 mph. As drivers progress west from Newstead, residents say, they begin to speed as Hunts Corners turns into County Road at Salt Road.

The residents note that when drivers get to the intersection, they cannot stop in time to avoid drivers approaching from Salt when they finally become visible.

Currently, a small flashing red light, as well as stop signs at the Salt intersection entrances, are supposed to caution drivers. Yet residents such as Hans Mobius believe that the best form of accident deterrence is to lower the speed limit on County Road to 45 mph.

“To me, it’s just that they [county] don’t want to lower the speed limit for whatever reason, because it just doesn’t make any sense,” he said.

Mobius, who owns Maple Row Farm at 6879 Salt Road, has inquired about the speed change at the town and county levels for years. He and his neighbors were able to successfully lobby for a change to 50 mph from the original 55, but they say the speed limit must be lowered further to prevent potentially fatal accidents from occurring at the intersection.

In November, about a dozen residents and town officials gathered in a conference room at Town Hall to discuss solutions to the issue, which led to the Town Board requesting a traffic and feasibility study to be conducted by the county.

According to Gina Wilkolaski, traffic safety engineer for Erie County, the results of the completed study showed that a reduced speed “was not appropriate at this time.”

“Regardless of what is posted, people are going to travel what they feel is safe,” she said. “When you have a wide open road that’s mostly straight, they feel safe driving 50 mph, so much so that even if you reduce the speed, without changing the geometry of the road, it’s not going to change what people feel is safe.”

Wilkolaski added that problems could be unintentionally created if the speed limit were to be lowered.

“What it does is create a bigger differential between the people that are following the posted speed and the people that still feel safe driving 55,” she said. “Being rear-ended by someone going about the same speed as you will have an impact, but when you rear-end some one that’s going 20 mph less, there’s a more significant impact.”

Mobius said that according to the report he was given, the speed tests showed cars traveling an average of 55 mph. The only way to get cars to go the desired 50 mph, he says, is to lower the speed limit.

“If they’re going 55, and it’s a 50-mph zone, if you dropped to 45, they’ll go 50, which is what you want,” he said.

Wilkolaski says a four-way stop will be installed in the spring, a development that is good news for Clarence Supervisor Patrick Casilio.

“The four-way stop and the four-way flashing light will save lives, and that was our goal at that intersection,” he said, adding that the county’s decision not to lower the speed limit is currently not subject to an appeal unless the town can conduct another traffic study with different results.

Mobius says he and his neighbors agree that the speed limit should be made consistent from Hunts Corners to Heise Road, and while he believes that a four-way stop will help, it ultimately will fall short of solving the intersection’s issues.

“If you sat in my yard and watched the cars go by, some of them have to be going 80 mph,” he said. “I’m worried that when they hit that hill, coming from Akron, and they hit those stop signs, they won’t see them. They’re going to have to come to a screeching halt.”

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