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Funds approved to fix eroded section of Tonawanda Creek Road

Mike Desmond, WBFO

Work to repair a section of an Erie County road closed due to erosion into an adjacent waterway will begin next year, now that millions of dollars have been committed to the project.

Members of the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council approved Wednesday the allocation of $9.4 million dollars to fund rehabilitation and stabilization work along Tonawanda Creek Road, east of Transit Road in the Town of Clarence.

"This is a large project, encompassing rebuilding of the embankment of Tonawanda Creek, stabilizing the embankment and then, of course, rebuilding the road on the Erie County side," said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who announced the funding immediately after Council members concluded their meeting inside the Rath Building in downtown Buffalo.

"But because of the way the creek is and where it's located, it actually requires work to be done on both sides of the creek, which includes Erie and Niagara County."

A section of the road, between Westphalinger and Northfield Roads on the Erie County side, is currently closed to the public. Trouble there began in June 2014 when a slope failure occurred. Some of the road's shoulder slid into the creek and erosion continues today. At first, traffic was restricted to one lane but, as the erosion progressed, officials closed the road to all traffic except for the eight households who need continued access to their properties.

Officials estimate about one thousand cars used this section of Tonawanda Creek Road on a daily basis, before the trouble started. Since it closed, motorists have had to use an inconvenient detour.

"It's not like it's a subdivision where you can just hop over one street and, a hundred yards down the road, you can go around it," Poloncarz said. "It takes some time to detour in this area because it is primarily a rural area."

The $9.4 million set aside for the work comes from the federal Transportation Improvement Program. The Tonawanda Creek Road repair is one of 17 projects approved by Council members for TIP during the years 2017 to 2021.

Poloncarz is telling the public that more patience is required, given the scope of the project and the many steps involved.

"This is not something that's going to get done in 2017, so I don't want people to think that the work is going get completed in 2017," he said. "It's going to take some time. The engineering and architectural designs, of course, will commence starting in 2017. But it's going to take a number of months, even years, to complete that project because it is such a large project."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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