State leaders call for safety study of Union Road after teen’s death

State leaders are calling on the DOT to conduct a safety study at Union Road and the Kensington Expressway.  (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
State leaders are calling on the DOT to conduct a safety study at Union Road and the Kensington Expressway.  (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

CHEEKTOWAGA – Local representatives in Albany are calling on the Department of Transportation to conduct a safety study of Union Road at the Kensington Expressway after 16-year-old Sherilann Lorenz was hit by a car and later died of her injuries.

In a joint letter penned by Senator Tim Kennedy and Assemblywoman Monica Wallace, both Democrats, they say that over 15,000 cars pass through the intersection everyday and the intersection also sees a large number of pedestrians and bicyclists due to its close proximity to bus stops, restaurants, a grocery store, and a shopping plaza.

Ms. Lorenz was struck by a car last Monday afternoon while she was riding her bike to work at the Maryvale pool.  She later succumbed to her injuries.

A memorial cross marks the spot on Union Road where Sherilann Lorenz was hit by a car on July 30th.  (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
A memorial cross marks the spot on Union Road where Sherilann Lorenz was hit by a car on July 30th.  (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

“As we mourn the loss of Sherilann Lorenz, we owe it to her family and the many who call Cheektowaga home to ensure that the state is doing everything on its end to make this intersection safe for pedestrians and cyclists. We’re urging the DOT to do the right thing by acting immediately, and analyzing whether further safety measures and traffic calming measures are needed,” said Mr. Kennedy.

Because of the high volume of pedestrians who use this intersection out of necessity, Kennedy and Wallace urged the NYSDOT to pay careful attention to this spot.

“Union Road is a major thoroughfare of which traffic is only increasing, especially at the intersection of the Kensington Expressway. As we mourn the passing of Sherilann Lorenz, we’re calling on the state Department of Transportation to take a fresh look at Union Road and evaluate options for it to become more friendly to pedestrians and motorists alike,” said Ms. Wallace.

 

The text of Senator Kennedy and Assemblywoman Wallace’s letter is below:

Dear Commissioner Karas:

We write in regards to serious safety concerns on Union Road, a state highway, near the Kensington Expressway in the town of Cheektowaga. Following the recent and tragic death of 16-year-old Sherilann Lorenz, a Cleveland Hill High School student who was crossing this stretch of road on her bicycle on her way to work when she was hit by a vehicle, we are urging the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) to study the pedestrian and bicyclist safety features located near this intersection to determine if more can be done to make this road more secure.

This busy intersection is the meeting of a multi-lane, heavily trafficked roadway with an onramp to the Kensington Expressway, and approximately 15,000 vehicles cross it each day. In addition to the heavy automobile traffic, this stretch of road also sees a great deal of pedestrian traffic, with people frequently crossing to access a nearby shopping plaza, restaurants, and grocery store. Additionally, there are several bus stops within walking distance of this intersection, and travellers rely on safe roadways to get them to these local businesses. Due to the heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the vicinity of this state highway, and in the wake of the most recent tragedy, we respectfully request that the DOT study what options are available to better protect pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers, and help prevent future accidents from happening.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter, and we look forward to hearing from you. Should you have any questions, or if we may be of assistance, please contact us in our district offices at (716) 826-2683 (Kennedy) or (716) 686-0080 (Wallace).

Sincerely,

Timothy M. Kennedy                                       Monica Piga Wallace

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