One worry about Niagara County's planned Amazon warehouse: 'Traffic is going to be impossible' – Buffalo News

A shovel-ready field at the intersection of Packard and Lockport roads in the Town of Niagara is to be the location of an Amazon distribution center.
Niagara County officials are enthusiastic about Amazon building a $300 million distribution center and bringing 1,000 jobs to the Town of Niagara, but some residents have one nagging worry.
“The traffic is going to be impossible,” predicted Dawn Ansel, who lives a short distance east of the proposed warehouse site at Lockport and Packard roads.
Locals say the two-lane Lockport and Packard roads already are two of the most heavily traveled roads in western Niagara County, and their intersection, especially for eastbound traffic, can be a dangerous challenge.
“Since I’ve been here, there’s been at least 100 accidents,” said Thomas Scalzo, who has lived across the road from the Amazon site for 34 years.
While Amazon’s 216-acre parcel is half cornfield and half wetland, it’s not in the middle of nowhere.
Scalzo said his brother and cousin live on Packard Road.
“At 4:00 they can’t even get out of their driveways,” Scalzo said.
Jonathan Kempf of Tuscarora Road said people trying to make a left turn onto Lockport Road, especially during rush hours, often resort to a backup plan.
“If they see more than four cars lined up, they literally will make a U-turn, go to Saunders Settlement and go the opposite way to get around that traffic,” Kempf said.
“Honestly, they need to widen the road for anything to happen,” Ansel said.
Lockport Road is one of the main roads between Niagara Falls and Lockport, and every morning and evening, school buses make frequent stops along the road and the numerous residential side roads.
“If you add 200 to 300 trucks a day – plus the idea that when school is in session you’ll have school buses stopping – you’re going to have backups for quarters of miles,” said Kempf.
Town of Niagara Supervisor Lee S. Wallace acknowledged the traffic concern.
“That is, at this point in time, the only concern,” Wallace said. “We’ll take a look at it, and our hopes are that it will be doable and it will be something that can be done in a way that will mitigate a lot of traffic jams.”
Region-leading truck traffic
If the 3.08 million-square-foot warehouse is built as planned, the projected around-the-clock stream of 18-wheel tractor-trailers – as many as 24 per hour – might turn out to be the heaviest concentration of trucks in the Buffalo Niagara region.
By comparison, the region’s main post office on William Street in Buffalo has 215 truck arrivals and departures each day, U.S. Postal Service spokesman Mark Lawrence said.
The Modern Corp. garbage landfill in Lewiston has 185 trucks coming and going each day, according to spokeswoman Julie Berrigan.
A traffic study for a much smaller Amazon facility, to be built across from a FedEx distribution center in Hamburg, projects that it would add only 106 vehicle trips to the evening rush hour on Route 5, a road that already carries 42,000 vehicles a day.
But the Amazon building in the Town of Niagara would be 17 times bigger than the one planned in Hamburg, and it projects more than 10 times more jobs.
“Packard Road is narrow. It’s not going to be able to handle a tractor-trailer every three minutes,” Scalzo said.
Amazon chose the site in part because Packard Road has an Interstate 190 exit 1.75 miles south of the planned warehouse location.
I-190 helps make Packard a heavily traveled route already, along with its intersections with Military Road, a major shopping area, and Porter Road, which leads to Niagara Falls International Airport.
The warehouse is projected as a 24-7 operation, with two 10-hour work shifts each day. The peak hours for employee traffic would be between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m., and between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m., traffic engineer Amy Dake told the Niagara County Planning Board Monday.
The morning Amazon peak would come before the current neighborhood traffic peak, Dake said, but her study estimates 443 employee vehicles and 24 tractor-trailers would enter the Amazon site during that peak hour.
During the evening peak hour, the study says, 392 employees’ vehicles would enter the Amazon site and 399 other employees’ vehicles would leave the site, while 20 tractor-trailers would pull in and out.
“These traffic figures represent an overall increase in traffic in the area,” Amazon attorney Kimberly R. Nason acknowledged in a project summary sent to the Town of Niagara.
Improving the roads
Nason, however, said the existing roadway network “can reasonably accommodate the project” by making improvements to the public roads around the site.
The project design calls for four driveways. One would run to Tuscarora Road, east of the building, and would be used only for traffic exiting the Amazon site. They could be employee vehicles or Amazon tractor-trailers, Dake said.
Tuscarora Road “will be improved from the driveway location all the way out to Lockport Road,” Dake said.
The other driveways would run onto Lockport or Packard roads.
Dake recommended adding left-turn lanes to the public roads at all three of those driveways, along with a right-turn lane for the driveway at the Lockport-Packard intersection.
Also, traffic signals should be installed at the driveways, Dake said. Those signals would be “fully actuated,” she said, meaning that the lights for through traffic would remain green unless vehicles were waiting to exit Amazon.
“That could be all day long,” she conceded.
This site plan for the Amazon warehouse in the Town of Niagara was submitted as “Project Fifi” to the Niagara County Planning Board in March 2022.
A tough drive
The current intersection of Lockport and Packard roads is unusual.
A westbound driver on Lockport Road now has the option of staying on the main route, which curves south and becomes Packard Road, with no stop sign or traffic signal.
Or, that driver can take a right-turn lane to continue west on Lockport Road.
But eastbound drivers on Lockport Road who want to keep heading east face a challenging left turn at an uncontrolled T-shaped intersection on a curve.
To the east of the Amazon site, Lockport Road also features the main entrance to the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, the county’s largest employer; a heavily traveled intersection with Walmore Road, which leads to Niagara Falls Boulevard; and a bustling industrial park, Vantage International Pointe.
Scalzo said he’s regularly awakened at 6 a.m. by trucks using their engine brakes.
Kempf predicted Amazon traffic would worsen air quality, causing more asthma and heart disease, and damage home foundations.
“People live here. This isn’t a purely industrial zone,” Kempf said.
“It’s going to make things noisy. It’s going to make things crowded,” Ansel said. “We moved here because it’s a quiet neighborhood. Adding a big giant warehouse there that’s going to employ 1,200 people – the quietness is going to go.”
“Quality of life, they don’t think about that,” Scalzo added. “The only people who want it are the people who live far away.” 
“We have residents that will be inconvenienced, most likely,” said Wallace, the town supervisor.
“And we have to weigh the good with the bad when we come to a project of this magnitude that will significantly impact in a positive way, in many cases, residents in our town as a whole, and the county as a whole, and the surrounding communities,” Wallace said. “And then the jobs. And we have to weigh that against the impact of traffic.”
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I have covered Niagara County for The Buffalo News since 1995, when I joined the paper after 10 years as news director at WLVL in Lockport.
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The site, if approved, would have 1,000 employees, with additional seasonal workers during the fourth quarter of each year.

Amazon and its new developer are proposing to construct a 3 million-square-foot facility at 8995 Lockport Road, using 216 acres of land adjacent to the Niagara Falls International Airport and Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.
A shovel-ready field at the intersection of Packard and Lockport roads in the Town of Niagara is to be the location of an Amazon distribution center.
This site plan for the Amazon warehouse in the Town of Niagara was submitted as “Project Fifi” to the Niagara County Planning Board in March 2022.
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