Preserving Small Towns
by Lewis Gurley
Former Transportation Director, NYS DOT Region 4

Preserving Small Towns Archive ............Current Preserving Column Online
Published by Clarion Publications, Geneseo, NY

A transportation professional's
view of Geneseo, Part 2 (June 15, 2006)

Editor's note: This is part 2 of a memo that was delivered to the Geneseo Planning Board last week by Lewis Gurley. Mr. Gurley was retained by Please Don't Destroy Geneso (PDDG) to analyze the traffic studies submitted for the Newman PDD application.

Should the current rapid growth in traffic in Geneseo not be able to be curtailed through a planned development of the remaining parcels, the community will be looking for major capital improvement projects on route 20A to relieve traffic congestion. The normal and expected approach will be to go to the state since Route 20A is a state highway.
The state's capital improvement program is seriously under funded. Highway construction does not receive the attention that it once did several decades ago due to changed priorities. Last year a Transportation Bond fund was approved. Those funds were already over committed the day they were approved. New York States infrastructure is in a declining mode.
Geneseo must not believe that the state will be able to provide highway construction moneys to widen and improve Route 20A to relieve congestion caused by uncontrolled development that generated the traffic which led to the congestion.
Based on my experience and past responsibilities, I can assure you that should the Level of Service of Route 20 A deteriorate below acceptable levels (and it will), the community will live with the associated problem for one or more decades before there would be constructed relief. Even then, the most one could hope for is some relief not a complete solution.
Look at Jefferson Road in Henrietta or Ridge Road in Greece. Tens of millions of dollars are being spent now on Ridge Road and it is unlikely that the Level of Service will be raised to a desirable level upon completion of the road reconstruction.
Often there is an immediate improvement when the construction is complete but the added capacity is used up by more development that occurs. One must remember that each development must only show that their added traffic will be able to be accommodated.
Once in place these developments (retailers) are no longer responsible for future problems that result from accumulated effects. The time to preserve the character of a community is before the development occurs. The return of orderly traffic flow on a facility will never happen once it is lost.


Based on the above and my observations of roadway capacity deterioration caused by the building of large retail stores in many communities over the years, I offer the following recommendations:
1. Do not approve additional large retail development in and along Route 20A and Volunteer Rd. until more thorough investigation of traffic impacts based on full development of available land is undertaken and complete.
2. Complete the Access Management study that was started but as yet is incomplete.
3. Undertake a study by a qualified consultant to evaluate the traffic operations along Route 20A and key village alternate routes based on full build out of all available land currently zoned to allow commercial retail development. This could be accomplished by a change of scope to the Access Management Study.
4. Consider tightening current zoning criteria to assure that all developable land will not become retail development. A mix of light industrial, office and retail will significantly regulate the growth of traffic and hence make traffic congestion manageable.
5. Consider establishing a Transportation Development District that will allow for collection of funds from current businesses as well as future ones that can be set aside for transportation/ traffic improvements when they are called for due to operating conditions. This would require state legislation to establish but may be one of the most effective ways for the town to protect itself from over development.

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