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Village of Lewiston: Trustees revise Center Street Plaza traffic flow, look to reduce Center Street speed limit

by jmaloni
Sat, Feb 23rd 2019 07:00 am

By Joshua Maloni

Managing Editor

There will be one entry point and one exit point at the Center Street Plaza – for now.

Trustees in the Village of Lewiston on Tuesday took another look at the Rite Aid lot’s ingress and egress. On the recommendation of Lewiston Police Chief Frank Previte, they reaffirmed a decision to switch the entry lane from the Orange Cat corner to the Stone House side – in turn switching the exit lane to the plaza’s other side.

The board also heeded Previte’s advice and reversed a Feb. 4 decision to make the Orange Cat corner both an exit and entry. For the time being, that roadway will only be an exit.

Rite Aid is expected to take over the former HSBC Bank space, which has drive-thru capability. Mayor Anne Welch said plaza owner Gary Hofing inquired about reopening the window and, accordingly, changing the traffic pattern to allow vehicles to drive in from the Orange Cat corner, proceed to the drive-thru, and exit down the hill and out onto Cayuga Street.

Part of the complication in doing that, however, is patrons are used to driving from the Cayuga Street lower portion of the plaza – home to the Village Vet, Village Fitness Club, Niagara Physical Therapy and Edward Jones – up the hill, and into the Center Street section of the plaza.

At the monthly municipal meeting this week, Previte said, “It’s inviting a huge problem. And, looking at it again today, if they are planning on putting the (drive-thru) window where it was before, not only are you forcing a traffic pattern change where there’s no delineation, but how do you know where it crosses? It’s not like there’s going to be lanes painted. And even if there was, you’re asking them to crisscross.

“The other problem is … if you get four or five cars, which is absolutely possible, it’s going to be stacked. And then, coming in, you’re going to have cars that might be stopping at the last second in a drive lane.

“I just don’t see the benefit – how that’s going to benefit the owner or that plaza. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”

Previte said crisscrossing traffic would likely lead to head-on collisions.

Clerk/Treasurer Amy Salada said trustees technically voted for one egress and one ingress, and that the in/out option wasn’t officially attached to an approved motion. As such, the board didn’t need to re-vote.

The ingress and egress signs are expected to be reversed once the weather breaks. In the meantime, motorists are reminded to abide by the current signs and traffic pattern.

Welch said the Planning Commission will be tasked with reviewing any drive-thru plans.

Speed Limit Change

The Village Board will seek assistance from New York State Sen. Rob Ortt and Assemblyman Angelo Morinello in changing the Center Street speed limit from 30 miles per hour down to 25 mph.

This roadway belongs to the state, and the Department of Transportation previously denied a speed limit reduction. A change can be made, however, if a law is passed in the New York State Legislature providing a “home rule” provision for the Village Board. Trustees will ask Ortt and Morinello to sponsor bills in their respective houses.

Though Welch and Trustee Vic Eydt said they are opposed to reducing the speed limit, they once again looked to Previte for advice. He said carving off 5 mph would enable motorists to stop faster – and with less fear of being rear-ended – when approaching crosswalks and pedestrians looking to traverse the road.

“I think it definitely benefits the crosswalks and it wouldn’t hurt, to tell you the truth, for the pedestrian traffic that we have in the summertime, because of the festivals,” Previte said.

Fire Inspector Barry Beebe said, “There’s a very big plaza that’s going to be installed. … Slowing down traffic may not be a bad idea.”

Department of Public Works Superintendent Terry Brolinski added, “You’ve got to look at your Tuesday nights for Artpark, and your Wednesday nights.”

Welch said the Center Street streetscape will be redone in the next two years. When that happens, the crosswalks will be removed. Without the stone markers, Eydt said traffic could use another slowing mechanism – in this case, a speed limit reduction.

Deputy Mayor Claudia Marasco said a lower speed limit would be welcome news for walkers, while Trustee Nick Conde suggested slower-moving motorists would take additional notice of retail stores.

Counsel Joseph Leone said St. Peter R.C. School also petitioned the DOT to reduce the Center Street speed limit.

“OK, I’m convinced,” Welch said. “25 it is.”

With that, Eydt made a motion, which Marasco seconded, and the measure passed with a unanimous vote.

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