A crosswalk may be installed on the busy Amherst road where a 13-year-old girl was struck and killed by a Jeep last year.
County officials are making no promises but – at the passionate urging of the girl’s family and friends – have agreed to at least study the issue of a crosswalk on Maple Road near an elementary school playground.
County leaders had previously said they would look into the matter only if the town requested it, but Amherst officials were wary of the idea because the family of Erin Suszynski, the teen who was killed, has filed a wrongful-death suit against them.
The Amherst Town Board has since softened its stance, requesting a formal traffic study by the county earlier this week.
“We wanted to do everything we could to help make the crossing as safe as possible,” Amherst Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein said. Council Member Mark A. Manna at the last meeting said the town needed to hold the county’s “feet to the fire” on the crosswalk issue, and county leaders appear to have taken notice.
“We want to work with the town on this situation,” said Charles A. Sickler, director of engineering for the county.
The next steps include conducting pedestrian and traffic counts, and reviewing road distances, speed limits and accident history on Maple across from Maple East Elementary School, where Erin was struck.
The five-lane road in that area carries roughly 20,000 cars per day, according to Charles A. Sickler, director of engineering for the county, and is near the busy Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital and St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church and school.
Erin, an eighth-grader at Mill Middle School, was crossing Maple and had stopped at a center median with a friend when she was waved on by the driver of a car that had stopped to let the girls pass.
Another car, though, sped around the vehicle and struck the girls. Erin died a few weeks later; the other girl, Briana Francois, has recovered.
“It’s a shame that Erin had to die, that something like this had to happen, but if we can prevent other children from having this happen, it would be huge,” said Mary Suszynski, Erin’s mother.
A crosswalk or traffic signal is no guarantee, officials say, unless traffic counts and other factors match the recommended levels. “This is a really emotional, sad issue here,” said Sickler.“We don’t want to be disrespectful, but there are certain rules we need to follow” so as to not make the traffic situation worse.