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The Hertel-Colvin intersection: A disaster waiting to happen

Author: Charles Roberts

Motorists routinely accelerate from the right-hand turn lane to cut off traffic in the lanes designated to head north or south. A crosswalk call button is missing from the pole. The crosswalk paint on the street is just two thin stripes. A building remains inexplicably in a state of disrepair, with hardly a sign of progress in months.

This, of course, is the intersection of Hertel and Colvin – steps from a pair of daycare facilities and within an otherwise walkable North Buffalo neighborhood that’s bursting with investment from homeowners, developers and small-business owners.

A Facebook post on the topic of the intersection in the North Park Community Association garnered more than 100 reactions and just as many concerned comments from residents.

“I’m for whatever needs to happen,” Dana Markowitz said in the Facebook post. “I was run over (as a pedestrian) at this corner in 2011!”

Suggestions from commenters generally ranged from adding turn arrows in the left-hand lane, to getting rid of the right-hand turn lanes, to enhancing the visibility of crosswalk markers.

“[Curb] bump outs and eliminating the right turn lanes would go a long way to make it better for pedestrians,” Jordan Then said in the post.

Jenna Lynn added, “This intersection could use turn arrows and improved crosswalk markers.”

Council Member Joel Feroleto, who represents the Delaware District, praised the neighborhood’s walkability at an Aug. 12 unveiling of a Buffalo-themed sculpture at Hertel and Saranac – or less than 200 feet from the non-pedestrian-friendly Hertel and Colvin intersection.

“The addition of this sculpture will add yet another wonderful asset to the Hertel Avenue public art collection, contributing further to its reputation as a vibrant and walkable neighborhood,” Feroleto told Buffalo Rising.

When asked about this particular intersection, Feroleto responded, “I requested funding from the Mayor’s Capital Budget to address this intersection.”

Both Feroleto and Michael Finn, commissioner of the city’s Department of Public Works, were contacted by email in July with all the concerns mentioned above.

“I’ll have our traffic technician look into the functionality of the signal to make sure everything is working as designed,” Finn said by email on July 30.

To date, the lamp post on the southeast corner still features a hole where a crosswalk button was previously located. The building at the same corner remains as Hertel’s biggest mystery. And vehicles continue to treat right-hand turn lanes as an opportunity to get ahead of those obeying the law in the lanes designated to go straight.

“My friend was hit by a car on his bike at this intersection,” Joseph Mendola said in the Facebook post. “He had the right of way and wasn’t doing anything wrong. And that building [at the southeast corner] is so bad. It’s been like that for years. How in the world does the owner get away with letting the building look so terrible[?]”

Residents are concerned. City officials are aware. What happens next?

Written by BRo Guest Authors

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