Safety improvements planned for deadly Cheektowaga intersection

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — State legislators announced Tuesday the New York State Department of Transportation would perform a traffic study on an intersection that claimed the life of a 13-year-old riding his bike last year, and a 19-year-old mother just last month.

The family of the local mother, Chelsea Chandler, says they’re eager to see improvements, to save others from the same fate.

“Periodically, she will ask where her mommy is,” said Chandler’s grandfather, Edwin Chandler as he stood at the intersection of Harlem and Walden roads.

Alexandria will be without her mother for her 3rd birthday this weekend, after the 19-year-old woman was killed July 9 at the intersection.

Chelsea Chandler was walking home late at night from her job at the nearby IHOP. She was about a block from her house, walking in the crosswalk.

Police say traffic had the green light, and the driver of the vehicle that struck her was not charged with a crime.

Chandler isn’t the only one to fall victim at the intersection. A 13-year-old boy was hit and killed as he crossed on his bike last year.

Roadside memorials that have been erected near the intersection signal the lives that have been taken from their loved ones too soon.

“Before they widened it wasn’t as bad,” said Chandler’s aunt, Marie Luh. “Now that they made it seven, eight lanes, it’s atrocious. As far as people trying to get across, there’s double turning lanes. The timing is off. It’s just not enough time for people to get across.”

Chandler’s aunt and grandfather, who live nearby, say it’s a dangerous intersection, especially as an estimated 60,000 vehicles travel through it every day.

“Cars don’t stop,” she said. “The light turns yellow, they go right through it. They don’t care regardless of pedestrians or not.”

They’re hoping that will change with the NYS Department of Transportation announcing a new study.

“We’re hoping this moves along fairly quick so nothing else occurs on this corner,” said Luh, a firefighter who’s been called to the intersection multiple times.

In addition to the study, the DOT says it will install audible signals and ramps that will be better accessible for people with disabilities.

Chandler’s family says they’re hopeful those and future changes will have a noticeable impact.

“It’s a shame that it took something like this to get moving a lot faster,” Edwin Chandler said. “So hopefully, they will do the right thing, get the lights up, do whatever they have to do to get the lights changed, and nobody else will get hurt.”

It’s not yet known when the study will begin, and whether any additional improvements will be planned so both drivers and pedestrians can share the road safely.

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