Parkside-Florence intersection will get total redesign

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Major changes are coming to the intersection of Parkside and Florence Avenues in North Buffalo.

The Parkside Community Association on Friday announced the award of a $450,000 federal grant, which will be used to redesign the roadway.

“This is tremendous progress for us,” said Parkside Community Association Executive Director Amber Small. “Our traffic committee has been working for years to address the problems in the Parkside community.”

Much of the grant money will be used to soften the double curve around the intersection. The combination of the sharp turn in the roadway, along with many drivers moving at speeds faster than the posted 30 MPH limit, has led to countless accidents at Parkside and Florence over the years. Cars have struck pedestrians. Cars have left the roadway, striking houses and other vehicles.

“The lanes are very wide, so we want to just narrow them a little bit, to encourage drivers to drive slower and safer. The physical grade of the road is also slanted a little bit. So there’ll be money to even that out,” Small explained.

Improved signage and countdown timers will be installed; “things to make pedestrians safer,” Small said. “I believe more streetlights as well.”

The PCA’s traffic committee has been working with both the City of Buffalo and the State Department of Transportation, to try to secure some of these changes. It successfully fought to have electronic signs installed that show drivers their current speed, and flash when someone is speeding.

Last fall, PCA members and neighbors staged a protest by deliberately parking their cars on both sides of the road, narrowing it to two usable lanes and forcing drivers to slow down.

“It’s needed,” said neighbor Michael DeLuca, of the Parkside-Florence intersection overhaul. “You know, we watch people visit our community, go to the zoo, go to the park… And it’s kind of scary, to watch them run across the street. I have a little one. I do not walk across this intersection. I go down to Jewett, because it’s safer.”

“This intersection is notorious for accidents. Just this past Memorial Day, there was a very serious accident involving a skateboarder. Every couple months, there’s another accident here. And we have a duty to our residents, to our visitors, to our drivers to make this roadway safer. And that’s what we’re working to do,” Small said.

A study by the City of Buffalo has shown accident rates at Parkside and Florence are three times higher than the state average. PCA members say the same is true of the intersections with Amherst Street and Linden Avenue.

The traffic committee currently is involved with several other initiatives and studies. Small said the PCA will continue to push for safety improvements at other intersections, running the length of Parkside Avenue, in the future.

“Both physically and metaphorically, we’re moving in the right direction,” she said. “We’re also very involved with the Scajacquada [Expressway] downgrade, so we’ve got a lot going on with traffic.”

“Little things could be done to really make it safer for everyone. So I hope the city sees this as one of many pieces of change we could make along this street,” DeLuca said. “Reducing the lanes from four lanes to three lanes [one in each direction, plus a turning lane] would be huge. This is the start. It will make a difference.”

Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2015.

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