A transportation professional's
view of Geneseo (June 8, 2006)
I have enjoyed a career of over 40 years as transportation
professional. I have a BS in Civil Engineering from Drexel University
and an MS in Traffic Engineering and Transportation Planning
from Villanova University.
I have held a wide range of positions with the Pennsylvania
Department of Transportation and the New York State Department
of Transportation (NYSDOT). I retired from NYSDOT in 1998 after
serving more than ten years as the Regional Director of Transportation
for the Genesee Valley Region 4.
In this position I was responsible for all state transportation
matters in the seven county region surrounding Rochester. Through
out my career I have always been led by a passion for helping
communities to find solutions to their transportation and traffic
problems as well as lead them to sound planning that can go
a long way towards preventing problems before they are irreversible.
As you know, there has been several traffic studies conducted
in the Town and Village of Geneseo over the last several years
for different reasons, but all connected to either a specific
commercial development or a concern for development pressures
generally along the Route 20A corridor (Access Management).
One can be easily confused by the plethora of traffic information
provided by these studies. Some of the data is projected from
dated information and some from new actual traffic counts.
The most recent study dated May 2006 prepared for the Gateway
Town Centre project provided updated manual counts at nine intersections
along Route 20A. While it is good to see some actual counts
taken since the opening of the new Super Wal-mart, more information
is needed in order to properly assess traffic impacts for future
In my own investigation, I found that the distance from the
corner of Route 63 and Court Street to Wal-Mart is essentially
the same traveling over two routes.
The first route is the marked traffic route of Route 63 to Route
20A and then to Volunteer Road. The second route is via Court
St., North St. and Lima Rd to Volunteer Rd.
However, the first route takes 20% longer to travel due to current
traffic and traffic lights. As traffic congestion increases
along Route 20A, the 2nd route becomes more attractive to motorists.
Computer traffic models often do not consider very local streets
such as Court St and North St. I do not know if the ones used
by the various traffic consultants considered these alternative
routes. The Town and Village embarked on a course of action
several years ago and again as recently as March of 2005 seeking
to create an Access Management Plan. That plan could help to
provide a blueprint of actions current and future that would
mitigate the traffic impacts of continued development.
Unfortunately, this Access Management Study has not been completed
but the pressure for additional significant commercial development
has continued. While one new major retail property is in place
and a second one under consideration, proper strategic planning
for the corridor can still generate a positive benefit for the
community as leaders work to preserve the unique quality of
life enjoyed in Geneseo.
The Village's Historic Landmark designation is an attribute
that other villages can not simply decide they would like to
have. The history that makes Geneseo unique should be preserved.
Cooperative efforts of the Village and the Town are imperative
in planning for the future to assure that the area does not
become just one more over developed impersonal landscape without
a character that area residents can look at with pride.
Retail development, especially large or big box
developments do not provide the kind of employment that generates
successful growth. In time, other small businesses close because
they can not compete with volume retailers.
At the same time, they draw on a much larger area for their
patrons resulting in the increase in traffic that threatens
the quality of life enjoyed in small towns and villages. Eventually,
the ones with the sharpest business model survive and the others
close and vacate their space leaving empty buildings which is
the beginning of urban blight.
Another fact of large scale retail development is that it always
attracts more of the same. For this reason, communities need
to have a plan that considers all the land area that has a potential
for becoming developed.
Otherwise each developer/ retailer comes to the local government
for their approvals. When the impact that an individual retailer
causes is evaluated, the incremental increase to traffic and/or
community services does not appear to be a problem until finally
there comes a proposal that is the straw that breaks the
At that point it is too late to solve problems. The quality
of life that the community may have embraced is only a memory.
Along the Route 20A corridor there is still much undeveloped
land as well as land ripe for redevelopment (i.e. the old county
When Volunteer Road was built the intention was to have an office
park with light industry and a limited amount of new retail
space. When the Super Wal-mart was built, however, dramatically
changed the trip generation characterization for this parcel.
Further large scale retail developments will continue this destructive
traffic generation trend. Action to restrict the size of individual
retail stores on the remaining land would help to slow the eventual
undesirable, traffic generation.
to Part 2