Niagara Gazette — A much-debated and long-awaited Pine Avenue traffic signal finally made its debut this week to the delight of two prominent Niagara Falls families who pushed for its installation.
Members of the Antonacci and Colucci families joined city officials on Monday in formally dedicating a new pedestrian traffic signal and crosswalk in front of the Como Restaurant in the 2200 block of Pine Avenue.
The "Mario Antonacci Crossing," which took several years to install, honors the memory of the former Como Restaurant co-owner who was critically injured after being hit by a motor vehicle as he attempted to cross the street on New Year's Eve in 2004.
Antonacci's relatives, including his daughter and three sons, said they hope the light will serve as a reminder to pedestrians walking in the area to always proceed with caution and put safety first.
"It's a great thing that my father's memory will maybe help the safety of this community," said Antonacci's daughter, Marion Bartley.
"We wish it would have been done years ago," she added.
The 77-year-old Antonacci was struck by a car while attempting to cross Pine Avenue on his way into work. His daughter said he spent 95 days in the hospital before succumbing to his injuries. Following his death, family members lobbied city officials for traffic safety improvements on the block.
In 2011, city lawmakers directed former City Engineer Jeffrey Skurka to proceed with the installation project, despite opinions from state transportation officials and guidelines from the federal transportation office that suggested no such light was needed in the area. In March 2011, the city's own traffic advisory commission denied a request for permission to install the signal.
Council members eventually adopted a local ordinance authorizing the light's installation and clearing the way for the installation project to move forward. Work started late last year and was completed this month. The signal is pedestrian activated.