The Eden Town Board declared Eden Evans Center Road a dangerous road at a recent board meeting. The action, which 11th District County Legislator John Mills urged the board to take, is intended to force county action to help fix a craggy, pothole-filled section of the road between the Interstate 90 exit and Route 62.
“I’m not a patient person when it comes to public safety,” Mills said, calling the road both aggravating and unsafe. “It must be reconstructed immediately.” Sections of Eden Evans Center Road west of the I-90 entrance towards Route 5 have been repaved in recent years. Those projects involved the removal of waste slag from Bethlehem Steel which had been laid under the asphalt. The section that the town board declared dangerous does not have slag and would cost less, approximately $650,000 to complete according to Mills.
Mills said that he had met with County Supervisor Mark Poloncarz and John Loffredo, Erie County’s Commissioner of Public Works, last year and that they had promised him that this section of Eden Evans Center Road would be among the public works department’s list of projects this year. However, no work has been done, and none has been scheduled for this year. The town’s decision to declare the road as dangerous puts more liability on the county to address the issue. Mills also argued that Eckhardt Road should be declared dangerous by the town board as well, but the board decided to focus on Eden Evans Center Road in their resolution.
Earl Cooper has been a member of the Eden Town Emergency Squad for 37 years, and he sees the worst of the road’s impact on residents, especially when he has to transport someone to a medical facility. “The patients in the back, I can hear them in agony when we hit the bumps,” he said. Worse, ambulatory staff cannot take a patient’s blood pressure or perform other vital tasks because of the uneasy road. As a resident of Hemlock Road, Cooper also sees the tractor trailers that are diverting away from Eden Evans Center Road to avoid the potholes. “The bridges on Hemlock aren’t built for that traffic,” he said.
Eden Supervisor Glenn Nellis remarked that public safety reports like that would help the town get county aid to fix the road more quickly. “It takes it beyond whether the issue is politically motivated or not,” Nellis said. Mills is hoping that the county will release about $5 million from an undesignated fund that currently contains $89.9 million for this and road projects in other southern Erie County towns, including Concord, Orchard Park, Collins, North Collins and Evans. By law, this fund must maintain a balance of at least $52 million.