VICTOR — Route 96 doesn’t have a corner on the market when it comes to heavy traffic. Residents of Lane Road can testify to a constant flow of cars, school buses, pedestrians, bikers and runners on the east/west thoroughfare that connects Route 96 and County Road 9.
But it’s not the volume of traffic that has them on edge these days — it’s the dangerous curves and lack of sidewalks that fall between residential neighborhoods and the Victor Central School’s bus garage.
Melissa Gertner has lived in the neighborhood for seven years and travels Lane Road multiple times a day. The combination of an inclined road surface, compound blind curves, a confining hill on one side and guardrail and ditch on the other sometimes make for a white-knuckle drive.
“I’ve been caught off guard several times by people walking or biking because there’s no shoulder, no place for them to go.” Gertner said. “The way the curves are, as people try to navigate the curve, if there’s a bus coming in the other direction there’s not much you can do.”
An access road from the school and bus garage empties out onto Lane Road, which means there are regular bus runs and young drivers traveling at the same times, Gertner said.
“All of those factors make it dangerous,” said Gertner. “By walking or biking on that road, it raises the risk factor.”
Another nearby resident, Don Calabrese, said many of his neighbors walk their dogs or ride their bikes on Lane Road, but they’re taking a huge chance.
“When you’re walking into one of those curves,” he said, “the cars coming up the hill are aiming right for you until they turn into the curve. It’s kind of scary.”
He would like to see sidewalks built on the 40 mph stretch that joins the Canterbury Terrace, Taylor Rise, Esjay Drive and Sagamore Drive neighborhoods.
“We were told by the highway superintendent three years ago that a sidewalk would be constructed the following year,” said Calabrese. “But that never happened.”
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald announced in January that $26.5 million in federal Safe Routes to School aid would fund 64 project sponsors to implement infrastructure improvements and public education campaigns across the state. The town of Victor received $389,816 to install sidewalk, signs and crosswalks in the Victor Central School District.
“The projects supported by this round of federal funding will help children get to school safely by providing features such as sidewalks, multi-use paths, crosswalks and pedestrian signals near schools,” McDonald said. “The education component of the program can help families make healthy, sustainable transportation choices and teach kids how to safely use the infrastructure in their communities.”
Interim Highway Superintendent Mark Years, who was elected to his first full term starting in January 2014, is not yet certain how the grant will specifically be spent.
“We were looking at a possible extension of sidewalks (as a solution),” said Years, “but because of the hill and terrain, I don’t think the sidewalk is going to go in. It would take some serious grading to make it work.”
Years said other options for pedestrians are being explored. And although no plans are set in stone because the town just recently received the grant, he’ll be putting his head together with Parks and Recreation Director Brian Emelson and representatives from engineering firm Fishers Associates to come up with a plan.
Meanwhile, people walk, run and bike on that road every day.
“You can discourage people from using it, but you can’t make them stop,” Gertner said. “There are very challenging blind spots. I think it’s a disaster waiting to happen.”