At its peak hours, the East Avenue Wegmans can be a frustrating place. But it's a popular urban grocery store, so a little inconvenience is understandable.
But the parking lot is beyond frustrating, and the target of many customer complaints, says Dan Aken, Wegmans' manager of site development. There's an element of disorder in the lot as cars and people routinely get in each other's way. The biggest trouble spots seem to be the East Avenue and University Avenue exits, where vehicles bunch up on the main road and in side lanes.
Wegmans officials have a proposal that they say will relieve at least some of the congestion. They want the city to convert Probert Street, a one-way between East and University, back into a two-way street. And they want a driveway from the parking lot onto Probert.
"We're basically looking for a relief valve," Aken says.
The changes need city approvals, however, including authorization from City Council. At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 22, the city and Wegmans will hold a public information meeting on the company's proposal. It'll be held at the East Avenue store, in the conference room near the Market Café.
Wegmans has tried to improve the lot. It worked with the county to get longer green lights at the exits, Aken says. It's also reviewing a potential change to the store-side median at the University Avenue entrance. Extending that median could better funnel traffic into the lot, Aken says, and eliminate some congestion-causing conflicts. A similar approach is used on the lot's East Avenue side.
The Probert Street plan would reduce congestion in two ways, Aken says. It'd provide drivers parked on the lot's west side with an alternate exit, he says, resulting in fewer cars queuing up at the East and University exits.
Reconverting Probert into a two-way street would also prevent drivers from cutting through the Wegmans lot to get from East to University or vice versa, says Wegmans spokesperson Jo Natale. Wegmans has done traffic studies on the lot, Aken says, and found that hundreds of drivers use it as a cut-through.
Reconnect Rochester, a sustainable transportation advocacy group, has concerns about the plan. Generally, it wants to make sure that the plan doesn't harm the pedestrian environment around the store, says Mike Governale, Reconnect Rochester's president. And an additional exit would mean another conflict point between cars and pedestrians, as well as cars and cyclists, he says.
But the group also wants to make sure that Probert Street keeps its bike lanes, Governale says, since cyclists use them to get from East to University and vice versa.
City staff members have indicated that they'd support the Wegmans plan if the bike lanes are retained, Aken says. But he cautions that keeping both bike lanes, and converting Probert to a two-way street would mean eliminating the on-street parking on Probert.