WBEN Photo/Tim Wenger

Sen. Schumer demands Post Office address safety at Sheridan Drive locaton

"The post office is a stubborn old beaurocracy"

November 20, 2018 - 12:58 pm
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Williamsville, N.Y. (WBEN) - Standing along Sheridan Drive with wet snow coming down, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer was having a tough time hearing over the traffic noise as reporters asked questions about his concerns at the U.S. Post Office branch on Sheridan near Essjay.  The constant roar of passing vehicles and beeping horns was the backdrop to the Senator's plea to the postal service to come to the table, meet with Amherst officials and address dangerous traffic conditions at the branch.

Since 2011, there have been 33 accidents and eleven injuries adjacent to the post office parking lot.

Schumer is joining neighbors and Town Supervisor Brian Kulpa in demanding postal officals address the unsafe traffic and pedestrian conditions in and around the parking lot along the busy highway.

Sen. Schumer says one of the main problems is, "they've rearranged it so at this exit you can only turn right,  and at that exit you can only turn left, but no one's doing it".  "All they want is a little safety", said Schumer as he pointed to a panel of nearby residents who have been fighting for changes at the location for years.

To date, the postal service has not responded to requests to meet with town officials and address the situation.  "The post office is a stubborn old beaurocracy", said Schumer when WBEN asked why the agency has not begun to address the concerns.  Supervisor Kulpa estimates the cost to correct the unsafe traffic conditions would be in the $100 thousand to $200 thousand range.  "The cost of repairing all the cars and healing the people who've been injured is far greater than the cost of what needs to be done here", said Schumer.  "I will try to get the postal service whatever dollars they need from Federal transportation dollars so it won't come out of the taxpayers of the Town of Amherst", added Schumer.

"I inhereted this problem in January", said a frustrated Kulpa.  The town has been working on correcting the traffic issue at Sheridan and Essjay for six years. 

Barb Sanchez lives in the residential area off Sheridan near the busy intersection and looked on with hope in her eyes as Sen. Schumer and Supervisor Kulpa spotlighted the problem.  "Our number one concern is safety", Sanchez told WBEN.  "A little ray of hope" is how Sanchez characterized the attention the issue is getting from the Senator and town officials.

Schumer asked the postal service to deliver a Thanksgiving present and to respond and agree to meet and address the concerns before Thursday.

A copy of Schumer’s letter to the Postmaster General appears below:

Dear Postmaster General Brennan,

I write on behalf of the residents of the Town of Amherst, New York, and surrounding communities, following the ongoing reports and dozens of accidents brought about by the hazardous traffic configuration at the United States Postal Service (USPS) facility on Sheridan Drive. According to local officials who have reached out to my office for help, since 2011, there have been dozens of accidents resulting from the poor design of the current configuration of traffic flow for postal customers and Amherst residents. This, compounded by the high volume of both automobile and foot traffic in and around that plaza, has led to an increasingly impractical and extremely dangerous situation for motorists and residents of the surrounding community. To rectify this situation, I urge the USPS to immediately sit down with town and village officials, local stakeholders, and other impacted businesses in the plaza, and work with them to establish a solution to reconfigure, this parking lot to restore both safety and peace of mind to motorists and pedestrians alike.

The current issues originated in 2011, when the retail operations for the local USPS moved from a nearby plaza into the existing postal distribution facility the corner of Sheridan Drive, a major commercial thoroughfare in the Buffalo-Niagara region, and Essjay Road, an equally busy corridor. Directly across from the post office is a quiet, residential neighborhood. Previously, the principal role of this facility was for mailbox and package retrieval, which garnered significantly less foot and vehicular traffic.

As the USPS facility’s operations changed, so too did the traffic configuration of the parking lot. Two exits turned into one very confusing exit which only allows vehicles to turn right onto Sheridan Drive. The particular configuration has resulted in dangerous conditions and over thirty traffic accidents since the 2011 reconfiguration. It is my understanding that USPS recently commissioned a public study that concluded the traffic configuration at the Sheridan Drive facility had no impact on the ensuing traffic issues. Given the accident data presented to my office, and what I have heard from numerous officials and many residents, I fundamentally disagree with that assessment. It is imperative that USPS meet with local officials, stakeholders, and other plaza tenants to develop a realistic, near and long-term plan to remedy the glaring issues with the lot configuration.  

As the accident count continues to climb, Amherst residents have been patient, understanding, and accommodating enough over the past few years while waiting for these issues to improve. It is time for USPS to step up, be a good neighbor, and take the first steps to remedy the dangerous mistake that they created. Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Sincerely,

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