Solutions sought for Route 96 snarl

Solutions sought for Route 96 snarl Photo: Mike Murphy, Messenger Post.

August 02, 2017 07:05 AM

VICTOR — It’s arguably the longest 6-mile drive in Ontario County. The Route 96 corridor through Victor — on the way to or from work, on a weekend, or during holiday shopping season — has been a headache-inducer for commuters, business owners and residents for years.

Town, village, county and state representatives are looking for solutions to ease that pain, and are asking people who travel Route 96 to tell their stories.

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Steering Committee members behind the Route 96 Transformative Corridor Strategic Infrastructure Plan will host a public input workshop on Thursday, Aug. 3, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Victor Town Hall, 85 E. Main St. The meeting will be an open house format, and will not include a formal presentation. Instead, Route 96 motorists will be doing the talking.

Director of Development Katie Evans said the personal experiences gleaned Thursday will round out the statistical information gathered by an online survey that’s been working since mid-July.

And it’s a lot of data — as of Tuesday, more than 1,740 online survey responses had already been completed.

“We want to know what problems you’ve experienced and hear your ideas for solutions,” said Evans. “Even if you’ve taken the survey, this is an important opportunity for your concerns and ideas to be heard. Our key purpose is to listen.”

Why? Because the data tells only part of the story, Evans said.

A prime example came via email from someone who can’t attend the meeting. They commented about seeing people run red lights from Eastview Mall all the way to Route 332, and especially at the intersection of Route 96 and Main Street Fishers, Evans said.

“That’s a safety issue, and the data won’t tell us that,” she said. “Just filling out the survey isn’t enough; we really need to hear about your experiences.”

Multiple stations will be set up around the room. The first will be an introduction table, and then four different stations for four different geographical segments — Eastview Mall, Main Street Fishers, approach from the west and village, and east to Farmington, Evans said.

A sixth station will be for “did we miss anything?” comments and general feedback. And a laptop will be available for people who want to take the survey online that night, she said.

An activity will also be available for kids who come with parents or grandparents.

“We wanted it to be family friendly,” she said. “We didn’t want people not to come because they were juggling childcare.”

What gives this effort teeth is its steering committee, which includes not only stakeholders who regularly feel the squeeze of Route 96 traffic, but those who have the authority to improve a state-owned highway that runs the length of the county. On the team are the Ontario County planning director and commissioner of public works, two representatives from the New York State Department of Transportation, a representative of the Genesee Transportation Council, and representatives from the town and village of Victor and Victor Local Development Corporation.

Fuel their fire with the technical expertise of a consulting team led by T.Y. Lin International and hired by the town, and Route 96 drivers could see “real solutions that balance Victor’s quality of life with its continued economic success,” Evans said.

“The main goals are to build on past plans without duplicating them and identify a limited number of concrete, actionable project proposals that the town can obtain state and federal funding to implement,” she said.

The process will include a comprehensive review of past plans and an updated traffic analysis, she said.

The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council (FLREDC) has named Route 96 a “Transformative Corridor,” meaning that infrastructure improvements are critical to ensuring further economic development can occur. As a result, the town was awarded funding for this project through FLREDC’s Consolidated Funding Application and the Federal Highway Administration-funded Unified Planning Work Program of the Genesee Transportation Council, Evans said.

And for those who’ve taken part in past transportation task forces and evaluations — the Route 96 Transformative Corridor Strategic Infrastructure Plan goes a step beyond.

“Victor’s Comprehensive Plan provided a solid foundation,” said Evans. “This project is taking that data and further refining it. The consultant team is taking existing traffic volumes and turning movements, and building a simulation with today’s conditions.”

What makes this incredibly useful, she said, is that Ontario County is updating Victor’s buildout analysis. The consultant team will develop a simulated model of the buildout of the entire community.

“If we add an intersection here, what does that do to the flow of the entire corridor? It will show us,” said Evans. “As a planning tool, this is exceptionally valuable. We can test the recommendations and value of one project over another.”

Following Thursday’s workshop, the steering committee will meet on Aug. 16 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Victor Town Hall to discuss the data collected and give direction to the consultant team, which will prepare recommendations. A second public informational meeting will be held in September to gather more feedback.

The plan will be completed by the end of 2017, and a required environmental review completed in the spring 2018, said Evans. The plan will then be presented to the town and village boards to be considered for adoption.

“The most important aspect of this plan is that it builds upon — not duplicates — previous efforts,” said Evans. “When completed, the plan will be ready for implementation, not ready to sit on a shelf.”

If you go

WHAT Route 96 Action Plan public workshop

WHEN Thursday, August 3, from 6 to 9 p.m.

WHERE Victor Town Hall, 85 E. Main St.

More information is available here


Melody Burri, Messenger Post

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