Town of Batavia Highway Superintendent Tom Lichtenthal and engineer Joey Neth spent an hour on the rooftop of the Rite Aid overlooking Lewiston Road and videotaped the traffic flow, or lack of it.
The resulting highlight reel, played for the Town of Batavia Planning Board on Tuesday night, captured eight near-miss accidents, two dangerous maneuvers by drivers, five unsafe mid-road crossings by pedestrians and two bicycle crossings.
An hour observing West Main Street Road near Colonial Boulevard didn't yield much better results.
For the Lewiston Road side, the driveway for Rite Aid and the driveway for the Tops Plaza, essentially create an intersection, and over the past three years, there have been seven accidents at that intersection.
That's seven times the state DOT average, Lichtenthal said.
"What's going on here is we have so many conflict points, when you look at this intersection; you've got cars merging here; you've got a wide open driveway where one makes a right turn and one makes a left turn; you've got pedestrians trying to cross in the middle of traffic, plus cars coming off the Main Street intersection, and you're looking at all of these things coming together right here, and that's why you get so many of these types of accidents," Lichtenthal said.
The traffic study was conducted because Tim Horton's wants to build a new store behind the Rite Aid, that would connect, essentially, Lewiston with Main.
The overall traffic Tim Horton's is likely to generate isn't that significant by itself -- an average of 50 to 60 cars an hour, with 60 percent of Tim Horton's traffic occurring in a three-hour period in the morning.
Technically, the road capacity in the area, can handle the volume, Lichtenthal said, but the construction of the multiple turning lanes and intersections in the area make for very messy traffic patterns.
It's a situation that's only going to get worse with the expansion of Batavia Towne Center and Batavia Downs.
Lichtenthal said that, unfortunately, it's a classic case of the last one (in this case, Tim Horton's) getting stuck dealing with the problem.
Matthew J. Oates (photo), chief engineer for Benderson Development Co. took a different view.
The combined retail space for Tops Plaza, Rite Aid and the other retail in the area is more than 220,000 square feet, while the Benderson development is less than 20,000 square feet.
He said just as the DOT did when problems got too bad on Jefferson Road and Ridge Road in Rochester, the growing traffic problems on Lewiston and West Main are a DOT issue and shouldn't hold up development of Tim Horton's.
"I understand the town sees a large issue with the traffic, but without the traffic, we wouldn't have the interest in the development and without the traffic, Tim Horton's wouldn't be coming here, so one follows the other," Oates said.
Lichtenthal pointed out that the DOT is out of money and the Feds aren't sending highway grants down the pipeline any longer to help with local traffic issues.
"The DOT is now looking back and the towns and saying, 'you let this development happen without looking at the repercussions on the roadways. Now you expect us to fix it, ' " Lichtenthal said, "and they're telling the towns, 'you fix it.' "
The environmental review process was extended by consent of the planning board and Benderson in order to see if a solution can be found, or plan developed, to deal with the growing traffic issues.
Tim Horton's is just one step along the way, Lichtenthal said.
"These are baby steps," Lichtenthal said. "You take these baby steps and add them together and it's a big step and then what do you do?"
Last week, the Geness County Economic Development Center Board approved $1.7 million in tax breaks for COR Development to add four more retail spaces to the Batavia Towne Center in the location of the former Lowe's store.