In East Rochester, the stretch of West Commercial Street that runs past the Piano Works mall can feel more like a runway than a village street.
Years ago, the state built an off-ramp from Interstate 490 that dumps vehicles right onto West Commercial; the ramp opens up into a wide, four-lane road. Many drivers don't slow down as much as they should, says Marty D'Ambrose, the village administrator, which endangers pedestrians.
The road's design — along with the speeding encouraged by the design — also makes it difficult for drivers to get in and out of driveways and parking lots along the corridor, he says.
Village officials say that they hope a new long-range plan for West Commercial from Interstate 490 to Main Street will improve traffic conditions, make the road more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists, and improve the road's physical appearance. The plan breaks the corridor into three distinct sections and makes different recommendations for each:
• The number of travel lanes between the I-490 ramps should be reduced and a median should be installed, the plan says. Essentially, that stretch of West Commercial is an entrance to the village and should be treated as such, it says.
• The four-lane section of West Commercial between Roosevelt Road and Washington Street should be reconfigured as a two-lane road with a center turn lane, the plan says. That change should slow traffic and make it more manageable, while providing on-street space for cyclists, it says. The plan also recommends installing high-visibility crosswalks and new pedestrian crossing signals in the area;
• New, angled parking spaces should be painted on one side of the road in ER's downtown area, between Main Street and Garfield Street, the plan says. Spaces should be designed for drivers to back in to, which would make it easier for drivers to get out of the spots and also reduce the number of accidents, the plan says. It also recommends installing a decorative median flush with the pavement, along with trees and street furniture.
The plan ties into revitalization work that East Rochester has been doing in its downtown, D'Ambrose says. Businesses have fixed up buildings, he says, and town offices have been consolidated into the Eyer building. Demolition associated with the latter project has opened up potential development sites, D'Ambrose says.
Ultimately, having a plan should help East Rochester compete for state and federal funding to carry out the recommended projects, D'Ambrose says.
The plan also includes land-use planning recommendations, such as updating East Rochester's comprehensive plan and making zoning tweaks. The idea is to integrate road projects and land-use planning so that they are consistent, says Rich Perrin, executive director of the Genesee Transportation Council, the regional transportation planning organization.