AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – Some motorists and pedestrians who travel a busy stretch of Harlem Road connecting Cheektowaga and Amherst feel they’re in the dark at times.
That’s because some decorative street lights in the area have either been knocked down by errant drivers, or they’re not working properly.
“A lot of the lights come off and on,” said Town of Amherst Interim Highway Superintendent Joseph Speth. “There’s obviously some kind of problem with the lights coming off and on and we’ll have to fix that.”
News 4 was alerted to the problem by some concerned viewers who feel the limited lighting could be a potentially dangerous problem for pedestrians and motorists traveling at night.
“Having one of the most complicated intersections in the region being pitch dark seemed pretty dangerous to me,” stated one anonymous letter sent to News 4.
The stretch of Harlem Road in question runs from Cleveland Drive, where’s there’s a single roundabout, to a double roundabout at Kensington and Wehrle.
Both the towns of Amherst and Cheektowaga are responsible for maintaining the street lights.
“When the state was through with the project they turned everything back over to Amherst and Cheektowaga. So we’re , I shouldn’t say stuck. But we’re left behind with trying to fix some of the problems,” Speth said.
A News 4 photographer drove the impacted stretch of Harlem Road the other night and found very dark conditions in some spots. Keep in mind the roundabouts handle vehicle traffic as well as pedestrian crosswalks.
According to Cheektowaga Highway Superintendent Mark Wegner, some of the lights around the Cleveland Drive roundabout were knocked down by motorists unfamiliar with the flow and design.
“We have three down right now. We have four on order. But these lights are special order,” Wegner explained.
Limited lighting on the Amherst side is also due to motorists knocking down poles. But Amherst highway chief Joseph Speth thinks there’s something else wrong because some of the lights go on and off during the day and night.
“Lines seem to short out…either the underground wiring. Water’s getting into it. We don’t know. We have to find out.”
Just a couple of weeks ago Dawn Chameli was working inside a Hector’s Hardware store nearby when suddenly she heard a crash outside.
“I look and I’m like, wow the street light came crashing down. And there was glass all over, and I’m like lucky no one was walking across the street. Would have gotten hurt,” Chameli said.
Amherst officials say crews will be out at night to check on the lights to see how many are working.
Meanwhile, Cheektowaga officials say replacement lights have been ordered and should be delivered in a few weeks.
“It’s a very pleasing to the eye fixture. It’s just not a very well designed fixture,” said Chris Taber, a senior traffic signal technician with the Town of Cheektowaga. “It seems that they loosen up with the wind. Some of the set screws are just designed…they strip out really easy when you install them. So even repairing them is not just an easy process. It’s a big deal.”