MEDINA – There was an open house and presentation at Medina High School on Thursday to hear representatives from Alta Planning and Design outline proposed plans for improvements to the Maple Ridge corridor from Bates Road to Salt Works Road.
The improvements are designed to improve safety and traffic flow for vehicles, bikers and pedestrians along that two-mile stretch of road.
For Mike and Nancy Blount, who own property adjacent to Family Dollar, this would be fantastic. The couple is pleased to see a turning lane is among the proposals.
Mayor Mike Sidari welcomed the residents and explained why there was a need to address traffic issues along this stretch of road.
“Maple Ridge Road is getting crowded because of the growth of the businesses,” Sidari said.
He praised the efforts of those who have been serving on the committee of 10 since last fall, since the village received a $50,000 Genesee Transportation Council grant to study pedestrian and bicycle accommodations from Bates Road to Tops and the former Ames Plaza.
While the overall planning includes Maple Ridge Road from Bates Road to Salt Works Road, the core of the improvements focus on Main Street to Tops.
The first thing the planning committee did was put the proposal out for bids, awarding the contract to Alta Planning and Design, a company with headquarters in Portland, Ore., with offices in Albany.
Kristie Di Cocco, project manager, said the company focuses on vehicle and pedestrian transportation. The steering committee included representatives from Medina Business Park, Medina Central School, the village of Medina, Genesee Transportation Council, town of Shelby, Orleans County Department of Planning and Development, Orleans County Economic Development and state Department of Transportation.
They did an initial assessment in November and met with the steering committee in December. They also did a web survey and got a huge response, Di Cocco said. They received 560 responses, which she said was impressive, including almost 60 from Medina Estates (Ricky Place).
Di Cocco said they are looking at the concept of “complete streets,” which means they are not just looking at the fastest way to get vehicles from one destination to another, but rather streets which are designed to handle all forms of travel, including bikes, pedestrians and trucks.
In the future, she said Medina Business Park is going to blossom and other businesses continue to grow, adding to traffic.
Plans also include how they can connect the village’s historic district downtown with Maple Ridge Road. This includes a path from Ricky Place into the village.
They will recommend implementation of strategies which will make the project competitive for grants, Di Cocco said.
Their studies included seven intersections from Tops to Bates Road, and the one which experienced the longest delays in exiting to Maple Ridge Road was West Avenue.
A study of the crash history in the last five years showed accidents attributed to animals topped the list, with rear-end collisions second.
Laura Byer, project planner with Alta, said time lapse cameras were installed on Maple Ridge Road to see how people were walking, and they were walking in all conditions and at night.
“There is a precedent for establishing pedestrian and bike paths,” Byer said.
She also said a pedestrian bridge across Oak Orchard Creek is in the works.
Barriers to the proposed improvements include available funding, coordinating with NYDOT and roadway geometrics, i.e., a dip in the road west of Tops which hides oncoming vehicles.
Byer said Medina Central School officials are supportive of their measures and have shared their input.
Mayor Sidari stressed the importance of the study, and said they are looking to make these improvements for the safety of motorists and pedestrians.
“This is something that needs to be done,” he said. “We are going to see increased vehicle traffic to the Business Park, with the new hotel and the college. Funding is our biggest obstacle.”
A portion of the evening was allocated for residents to share their concerns and ideas. There was a lot of discussion regarding safety of vehicles, especially school buses, exiting Mustang Drive. Di Cocco said they did a traffic analysis there and are going to recommend a traffic light.
She also said there had been a lot of talk about lowering speed limits, but although it is a state road, the village owns that stretch of Maple Ridge Road.
Placing medians in front of Aldi’s and Medina Bowling Lanes to discourage left turns is another proposed option.
Jim Simon, associate dean of the Medina and Albion campuses of Genesee Community College, was concerned about the fact the speed limit changes from 45 to 55 mph right in front of the college. He said when the new hotel goes up, this developing corridor is going to get a lot busier.
He also suggested a pedestrian bridge installed at the back of Ricky Place would create an easy route for employees of Pride Pak, for instance, who want to go downtown for lunch. It would also be a direct line for students who want to walk home in the village. A pedestrian bridge has already been funded, he said.
Other traffic issues included the problem for residents of Lakewood Village who want to exit onto Maple Ridge Road, especially those making a left turn.
Park owner Jim Lustumbo said a 75-foot right-of-way between McDonalds and his storage buildings was established several years ago and agreed to by the landowner. A roadway there would allow residents to drive behind McDonalds and into the former Ames parking lot, where they could then exit onto Maple Ridge Road at the traffic light.
Copies of three concepts for the Maple Ridge Road improvements were made available for residents to vote on, and those who did not attend Thursday’s presentation are encouraged to pick one up at the village hall and fill it out.
Residents can not only pick their favorite concept, but can indicate if there is one or more thing they don’t like about a concept or something they would like to keep.
The public comment period will close July 4.