Remember the two Town of Batavia employees we found at Main and Ellicott one day last week counting cars?
A few days later, I ran into Town of Batavia Supervisor Greg Post and he explained to me why what they were doing was so important.
The town wants to make sure the state is working with up-to-date, accurate data before making a decision to reduce Ellicott Street from two lanes in each direction to one, with a turn lane down the center.
Disrupting traffic flow on Ellicott, Post said, could significantly hurt four of the county's biggest employers -- Hanson Aggregates, Chapin Industries, Graham Manufacturing and O-AT-KA Milk Cooperative.
All four rely on big trucks being able rumble down Ellicott and if it turned out that reducing the number of lanes on the street through both the city and town added minutes to each trip, that could add up to a truck load of money.
Post said most of those trucks cost about $75 to $85 per hour to operate, so a five-minute travel delay adds about $7.50 to the cost of moving product or material.
"Ultimately, somebody has to pay for that delay," Post said.
And it's not just the local businesses that rely on smooth sailing down Ellicott, a lot of Western New York truck traffic passes through Batavia on Route 63.
By making the effort to get an accurate count a multi-jurisdiction effort, Post said he hopes the Department of Transportation will have better data to work with.
"The state has had budget cutbacks just like everybody else," Post said, explaining why a multi-agency approach made sense.
There were counters from the DOT out at the same time as the town employees.
As for using human counters instead of automatic counters in rubber hoses laid across the roadway, Post said people can pay attention to where cars turn, not just that they passed over a certain spot. Also, since we're not out of snow season yet, the counting boxes could be easily damaged if plowers were put back into action. He said costwise, it doesn't make that much difference -- a lot of boxes would have needed to be placed on Main and Ellicott to get an accurate picture of traffic patterns.
"This is just an effort to find all the most accurate and up-to-date information possible," Post said. "This is a major project. We want to get it right. There's the old saying, 'measure twice, cut once.'"