Le Roy residents, business owners, community leaders and public safety officials packed into the Le Roy Town Hall Monday night to express their opposition to potentially reducing the number of lanes through the village. A proposed plan would make Main Street two lanes instead of four.
The public meeting was hosted by Le Roy Business Council and was attended by NYS Department of Transportation officials.
DOT Regional Traffic Engineer David Goehring said that Le Roy was targeted as an area that needs minor, preventative resurfacing. As part of the project, they looked at the roads and discussed with village leaders ways to make the village more pedestrian and parking friendly, concerns about speeding, as well as traffic issues at the corner of routes 5 and 19, Lake Street.
Using DOT jargon such as “calming traffic” (slowing down traffic) and “road dieting” (reducing the size of current roads) he cited research that shows how four-lane roads encourage speeding and quick lane changes, as well as being a tight squeeze for trucks and people parked on the street.
“We looked at traffic volume and saw an opportunity for 'road dieting' when preventive maintenance to pavement on Route 5 is performed in July -- dieting the current four lanes in order to trim them down to two lanes,” Goehring said. “The volume of traffic that comes through Le Roy would allow a single lane of traffic in each direction to accommodate it.”
The plan reduces the four-lane traffic that runs from the railroad overpass eastward to Le Roy Country Club into wider, single lanes of traffic in both directions and a middle turning lane, along with modifications to increase the turning radius at the intersection of routes 5 and 19.
The proposed route would have a 14- to 16-foot-wide center lane throughout the village, with 10-foot-wide parking spaces on both sides of the street in the business district. Parked traffic would have an additional eight feet of space between them and vehicle traffic due to the installation of “bike lanes” in both directions.
“This tends to reduce speed and reduce rear-end accidents because left-hand turn traffic is not in a live lane. People exiting driveways only have to gauge one lane both ways and can turn into the center lane, which gives you a refuge spot to get in and out of your driveway,” DOT Civil Engineer Brad Walike said.
Le Roy Mayor Greg Rogers and Town Supervisor Stephen Barbeau both said their constituents would prefer downtown parking be the focus of the changes, not the roadways.
“In an ideal situation, we’d like to see reverse diagonal parking and keep the existing highways the same,” Rogers said. “I don’t know if we have the right to request this, but that’s our feeling.”
Reverse diagonal parking allows traffic to back into slots instead of pulling in.
Emergency responders warned that they need the extra space to maneuver through downtown.
“When we respond on Route 5 going east, traffic has a place to get out of the way. There would hardly be enough room for our trucks to get down Main Street under the proposed new plan,” Le Roy Fire District Chief Tom Wood said. “We think you need to take a closer look at the west side, near the underpass.”
Le Roy resident John Duysson, a deputy whose job with the Sheriff's Office includes accident reconstruction, said he understood the plan, but disagreed with some of it. Besides improving traffic at the intersection of routes 5 and 19, he said he believes it will only increase traffic congestion.
“You’re dead on about routes 5 and 19, but on the rest, you’re nuts,” Duysson said. “I disagree with the proposal all the way through.”
Le Roy Historical Society Director Lynne Belluscio said the traffic pattern along Route 5 in Batavia keeps her from going downtown and she’s afraid people will feel the same way about coming into the village.
“I’m concerned people will feel it’s easier just to go around Le Roy,” Belluscio said.
Goehring said the projects in Batavia and East Bethany weren’t the best comparisons to the proposed Le Roy plan, which he equated more to the traffic plan implemented in Avon along Route 5.
NYSDOT officials will consider the community input and meet with local officials with a revised plan early next year.