Photo: Jack Haley, Messenger Post.
Photo: Jack Haley, Messenger Post.
November 16, 2017 07:02 AM
VICTOR — For gridlocked travelers and residents who frequent Route 96, Wednesday night brought a glimmer of hope.
A public meeting at Victor Town Hall unveiled specific plans and estimated costs that could ease traffic, decrease wait times and increase safety during peak travel hours on Route 96 between Eastview Mall and Farmington.
Among the changes: Convert an underused portion of the Ontario Central Railroad into a two-lane village street running parallel to Route 96; realign tricky intersections; link existing roads north of Route 96 on the east side of town to provide an alternate route; install more roundabouts; and rework access on and off of Route 490.
The draft recommendations — the fruit of the Route 96 Transformative Corridor Strategic Infrastructure Plan — may still be written in pencil, but they’re not sketchy in the least.
Rich Perrin of Rochester-based engineering firm TY Lin spelled out specifics, and estimated costs, to a roomful of residents and town and village officials.
While there is no single “silver bullet” answer to Route 96 traffic challenges, Perrin said, there are individual solutions that are meant to build off each other.
“These are fixes that could get you there,” said Perrin Wednesday. “We could get you to that sweet spot by 2040.”
The options are the result of a comprehensive review of previous studies and plans, an updated traffic analysis, projections of traffic volumes through 2040, and a public survey that garnered an estimated 4,000 responses.
Victor Village Mayor Gary Hadden said the plans are extremely encouraging.
“With as many studies done in the past and considerations about Route 96 that have been going on for years, this is the first one that has gone into this level of detail,” said Hadden. “With the computer modeling that’s happened and the statistical data that’s been collected, I think we have some options we can really sink our teeth into.”
The Route 96 Technical Steering Committee has to continue the planning process so “we’re ready to go whenever funding becomes available,” he said.
“We also have to keep in mind there’s already a plan for the (Lynaugh Road and Route 96) intersection for 2019 into 2020 that the state of New York has,” said Hadden. “So things are going to revolve around that. I’m hopeful that shortly after that we could start to implement whatever we choose to implement.”
The draft list of recommendations makes key changes in strategic locations that are meant to work together to improve the safety and efficiency of the entire corridor.
Proposal 1 — Convert an underused portion of the Ontario Central Railroad, from Route 251 to Adams Street, into a new two-lane village street running parallel to Route 96. The new street would end at a roundabout at School and Adams streets. Drivers could then continue east on Adams Street to Maple Avenue. Alternately, the street could even be extended even further south to Lynaugh Road. The new street would provide access to businesses on the south side of Route 96 and would include on-street parking, a sidewalk and a bicycle lane.
Proposal 2 — Extend the five-lane section of Route 96 from Main Street Fishers all the way to Route 251: Route 96 currently narrows to three lanes just south of Omnitech Place. This proposal would extend the five-lane configuration approximately one mile to a traffic signal at a reconfigured intersection with Route 251 and Lane Road. There is significant commercial development planned in this area, including the 96-acre Fishers Ridge project.
Proposal 3 — Connect roads to create safer, more efficient four-way intersections. Draft recommendations include aligning Lane Road at Victor Mendon Road (Route 251) and Willowbrook Road at Omnitech Place.
In addition, Collett Road, which now is a dead-end street at the eastern end of the corridor, would be extended to connect with Plastermill Road and Delray Drive to improve access to and from large residential developments in this area.
Proposal 4 — Create corridor-wide policy changes, like using shared driveways and parking for Route 96 businesses to improve safety and efficiency. A complete streets policy would also help address the needs of cyclists and pedestrians in any future road improvements.
Proposal 5 — Traffic signal and lane configuration improvements throughout the corridor would reduce congestion and collisions. Key locations include Turk Hill Road, Woodcliff Drive and High Street opposite Eastview Mall. Adaptive signal control technologies would be more responsive to actual conditions than the pre-programmed timings that don’t adjust to the real-time traffic.
Proposal 6 — Create a “diverging diamond” traffic pattern at I-490, Exit 29. At traffic signals, lanes in both directions on Route 96 would cross safely to the opposite side of the road. Drivers could then access the I-490 ramps without having to make left turns across traffic. A similar design at South Winton Road and I-590 in Brighton has reduced both crashes and congestion: https://www.dot.ny.gov/590winton.
Cost estimates for these recommendations are being finalized, Perrin said. Preliminary construction costs range from approximately $200,000 for signal and lane configuration changes at intersections to more than $2 million to construct the parallel village street. Design and permitting for these projects would bring additional costs.
“My hat’s off to the strategic planning team because there are representatives who are extremely knowledgeable, and the steering committee has a wide range of diverse backgrounds, including the state DOT,” said Hadden.
Councilman Dave Tantillo applauded TY Lin for doing a “fantastic job of giving us a whole ton of options.”
“It’s going to make traffic smoother and safer, so I think we’re 99 percent there with regard to options to present to the steering committee and the public, and the town board,” he said.
Whatever projects the public ultimately support, “it’s on the Town Board to figure out how to pay for that from a federal level, a state level, a county level, developers,” Tantillo said.
Victor Town Supervisor Jack Marren said he expects to get a final list of recommendations from TY Lin by the end of this year.
“And then it comes down to OK, what’s the cost, how do we pay for it, and what’s the assistance out there?” he said. “Is it county, state, federal funding? That’s what we’ll be looking for.”
Bruce Habberfield of Finger Lakes Railway said he’d like to find a way for a new village road and the existing railroad to run side-by-side.
“There’s no reason we all can’t coexist in the same space,” said Habberfield. “We want to be able to serve our customers and in the future 25 to 40 years down the road. We would look forward to working with the steering committee, keeping the railroad, and the road, sidewalks, bike paths.”
And Victor resident Lee Wagar would like to see more people hop on the New York State Thruway.
“Without spending any money, right now, how much of the problem could we solve by using the Thruway and Rawson Road?” said Wagar. “The Thruway is the answer. It’s not publicized, it’s not pushed. I didn’t know you could get a pass.”
Many left Wednesday night saying they felt like there might be a light at the end of the tunnel. Councilman Dave Tantillo was one of them.
“Finally we have a plan,” said Tantillo. “There’s no ‘we’re going to do another survey.’ We have a plan and we’re going to have dollar amounts and I think this is exciting.”
“If everybody’s behind it, we have a much better chance of getting things done,” said Perrin.
The draft recommendations are not final, and all public comments will be carefully reviewed and considered during development of the final plan. Residents are invited to email comments to Route96@town-victor-ny.us or send them to the Town Hall at 85 E. Main St. until Dec. 1.
Melody Burri, Messenger Post
Created: November 16, 2017 07:02 AM
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