The RPL held its first public meeting on May 17, 2002 at the Pavilion Fire Department Recreation Hall. Approximately 150 people from Pavilion, Covington, Middlebury, and LeRoy were in attendance. Here are minutes of the Public Comment session that followed the RPL's presentation.
Q1: Diane Burnham (Middlebury) – I'm a newcomer and favor no new expressway through the area. I value the trees, fields, history, villages, and fresh air. What is the Middlebury supervisor’s position?
A: Sally Meeder (Middlebury Town Supervisor) – I am not in favor of the expressway & most people I have talked to aren’t either.
Q2: John Rolle (Covington) – Without a new expressway, there is a problem for trucks getting to Canada; are there any other modes of surface transportation available, or being studied, like rail?
A: Chuck Davenport – We're not sure about a specific answer, but the DOT study now underway looks only at road (or surface transportation) solutions. We don't know if rail solutions are also being studied by anyone. It is possible that DOT may include in the study the effect of adding lanes to existing routes. The trucking association has a strong lobby. But rail is certainly more cost-effective and better for the environment. Note that traffic will continue to get heavier because of NAFTA.
Q3: Jack Bradbury (LeRoy, Oatka Creek Watershed Committee) – The RPL is well-organized and did a good job getting word out; What about Livingston & Genesee counties? Does RPL plan to expand its outreach and efforts into those areas?
A: Karen McCulley – RPL was founded in Feb 2002 with the goal of involving Genesee and Livingston counties as well as our own, since we all share this problem. We are in contact with people in both counties and will probably begin holding public meetings in those areas by this fall.
A: Chuck – DOT has held one public meeting in each of the three counties already. You might recall these public meetings, but unfortunately they were not very well publicized and only about 40 people attended each meeting. We feel DOT's effort to adequately inform and involve people has been insufficient, so that's what we're trying to do.
A: Gail Mortimer – I have been going door to door in the village of Alexander with the help of other volunteers. We've covered about half the village to date, and plan to cover the other half this weekend.
Q4: Roger Uptegrove (Burke Hill Rd) – If tolls for trucks are eliminated on the section of the Thruway between Buffalo and Rochester, how will the lost revenue be made up?
A: Chuck – The Thruway is already losing that revenue, because trucks taking Rt. 63 aren't using it. So by attracting trucks by giving them a toll holiday, there should be no net loss. [We advocate for a special permit, like an E-Z Pass, that trucks would need to apply for in order to receive the discount.]
A: Art Klein – Remember that if a new road is built, it won't be a toll road, so the Thruway won't have any way of recouping that lost income.
Q5: How many miles long will this proposed X-way be? Could it really cost $500 million?
A: Chuck - It could be as long as 35 miles, with approximately 20-25 in Wyoming County. The costs definitely include construction; we don't know if they include acquiring the land needed to build the road. They do NOT include operating expenses (policing, snow removal, towing, toll collection, etc.) or maintenance (pot-hole repair, resurfacing, mowing median, etc.)
Q6: Bill Zuber, Wyoming – Where will they put interchanges?
A: Chuck: According to the Chamber's map, Perry, Warsaw, Attica are possibilities; that's certainly what the supporters are hoping for. But the likelihood is that there will only be one in the entire 35 mile span.
A: Karen – what if there are NO interchanges? That would be a cruel joke on the Chamber of Commerce and those people advocating for an expressway in our area…
Q7: Diane Burnham – Will there also be proposed gas stations, dumpsters, etc.?
A: Karen – New industry would be located at interchanges (probably what the Chamber envisions). Elected officials crave this kind of activity (i.e. attracting business is 'supposed' to bring prosperity to an area.) Economic development leaders seem to believe this is the only way to help our area prosper. As far as what kind of industry will be attracted, according to Wyoming County's Target: Tomorrow strategic plan, they are hoping to attract telecom, machine parts, fabrication, plastics.
However, with our low population density, we are ripe for targeting by landfill businesses. Let's ask the residents of Eagle / Bliss about how hard it is to fight a landfill. Remember, ALL business is hoped for, not just the so-called 'good' businesses. Wyoming County doesn't yet have an Empire Zone, and as far as the RPL is concerned, we don't want one. When our governments give businesses tax abatements and holidays, you know who ends up paying for the increased services required, we do.
Q8: Doesn’t a highway also open us up to residential development?
A: Chuck – Yes it does, and residential development consumes more $$ in services than it generates in taxes, adding an even greater tax burden for the rest of us. The highway will be approximately1000 ft. wide, farms will be split in two. The land will become useless (i.e. Sonya has hundreds of acres of land split by the highway that isn't farmed.) The only acres that are paid for are those directly under the new asphalt. The land on either side of the road, land that may never again be able to be farmed, is not compensated for.
Certain elected officials told us that the map we got from the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce in early 2001 was 12-15 yrs old. If this promotion of a highway has been going on all this time, why didn’t the public know? (Incidentally, Anne Humphrey told us at a Target Tomorrow meeting that 'they've been talking about this highway for years and years, and nothing's ever come of it. Nothing ever will." It is interesting to note that, while she was telling us this would never happen, the ink was probably still wet on the county's request for funding for the study. That seems a bit incongruous to us…)
NYS can’t pay for this road now, but we’re in NAFTA corridor – there IS money in that pot… There are ways to get the money. But, we can keep the highway out if our local officials are not in favor of it. The law says NYSDOT must consult w/local officials. Your representatives will listen – it's not an issue of politics, it's an issue of way of life. There are two distinct issues here: safety, which we all agree is a problem, and the proposed Xway, which most of us agree is NOT the solution to the problem. Don't ever believe it will never happen - the only way it will never happen is if we don't let it!
Q9: Esther Leadley (Gen Cty Legislator) – Genesee County has Smart Growth plan (identifies places that are better to develop than others) and an Agricultural Farmland Protection plan in place that will be used to determine where an X-way can't be built. Livingston County is working on similar legislation, and I encourage Wyoming to look into similar legislation. I am concerned regarding a proposed x-way because the location map is outdated. And, as I understand it, Sear-Brown is very open to looking at LOTS of alternatives.
A: Chuck – The RPL has been offered a seat on Wyo Cty Ag Protection Board. Do you know any more about the ag protection plan, Jerry?
A: Jerry Davis, Covington Town Supervisor – No. Chuck, you sound like you know more about this issue than me.
A: Chuck – I understand the Board of Supervisors just approved the grant application. The time frame for getting the grant (re Ag Protection Plan) is about 1 yr. I don't know how long the planning process will take from the time of getting the grant.
A: Karen – I do know this: the NYSDOT study will be finished and recommendations made BEFORE the ag protection plan is in effect. It will not help keep our farmland safe in the short term. You must put your comments in writing to get your sentiments into NYSDOT's official document of study (i.e. comment forms). Contact us for DOT address. Now, how do our elected officials feel about this?
A: Jerry Davis – I haven’t made my mind up whether a highway is a good thing or a bad thing. All I know is I want to get traffic off 63.
Q10: Karen – When push comes to shove, will you vote your conscience or will you vote to represent the will of the people?
A: Jerry Davis – I'll represent the will of the people. (Received ovation.)
A: Neil Kingdon (Pavilion supervisor) – RPL knows more about this X-way than I do. I'm on the Study Advisory Committee, but I still feel uninformed. You will know the information as soon as I know it; I don't have enough info yet. “Jerry & I usually don’t know what we’re taking about” (!) Consequently, I am undecided on the issue at present.
Q11: Walt Guthrie – The construction business makes more $ than farming; we need the road, it’s unfortunate, but you do get paid for the land used for road. They're not stealing it. Look at Call’s farm in Batavia - they've done all right with a highway dividing their farm. How many farmers have sons who will take over the business? Truckers get 50cents/mi. driving tractor; do farmers earn that much? Who ends up paying for the extended distance if truckers to stay on thruway? Consumers.
After this gentleman spoke, the room turned louder - moderators tried to quiet the room, saying we need both points of view.
Q12: How long before the road could be built?
A: Chuck – It will probably be 5 years before breaking ground; probably 10 years before we see traffic going both ways.
A: Karen – RPL has ideas that are less expensive. DOT can circumvent the state legislation requirement and lower speed or weight limits if safety is at issue; Peoria Curve proves that it is. We recommend installing traffic lights (at 246 & 63), better signs, roadside plantings, traffic circles, rumble strips, etc.; Joan DuPont of NYSDOT told us there is a subliminal message from open fields next to highway that you can increase speed. Planting trees can ameliorate this. These are just a few of our suggestions. And they're all relatively inexpensive, non-destructive, and can be initiated now, not ten years from now.
Q13: What about a proposed bypass from Mt Morris to East Aurora?
A: Chuck: RPL has concentrated on the Rt. 63 bypass, and just do not know about the alternative you are bringing up.
The RPL held its second public meeting on June 14, 2002 at the Alexander Fire Department Rec Hall. Approximately 350 people from Alexander, Attica, Corfu, Pembroke, Darien and other locations were in attendance. Journalists from television channels 4 & 7 in Buffalo, along with WBTA AM 1490 and the Batavia Daily News were present. There may have been others, but they did not identify themselves to us. Here are minutes of the Public Comment session that followed the RPL's presentation.
Elected Officials present:
John Ryan – Town Council, Bennington; Esther Leadley – Gen. Co. Legislator, Pavilion/E. Bethany; Annie Lawrence – Dept'y Supervisor, Pembroke; Joanna Johnson – Dept'y Supervisor, Darien; Paul Agan – Supervisor, Attica; Richard Rudolph – Gen. Co. Legislator, Pembroke/Darien; Ed Biedeck – Supervisor, Pembroke.
Estimated Attendance figures:
Attica – 15%
Alexander – 40%
Corfu – 15%
Pembroke – 10%
Darien – 20%
Bennington, Bethany, Akron, Pavilion
Q-1: Jeff Litteer (business owner) had an interesting alternative idea that involves an electronic pass system for non-local truck traffic passing through our corridor. He also suggested assessing a $.50 fee to Darien Lake event goers, to pay the cost of increased traffic enforcement that is now being shouldered by Genesee County taxpayers. He states that an Expressway would return nothing to the local community, would hurt local business, would benefit only Darien Lake, government officials, and construction firms.
Q-2: Rob Rose (Attica) Can we institute a toll on local roads? On a toll road in Toronto, a camera photographs license plates of vehicles and charges a toll electronically, but the system is not foolproof.
Q-3: Sondra Borger (Middlebury) Came here 1965 from East Liverpool, Ohio, which was the pottery center of world before the war, when potteries left. So Ohio built Rte 11 into E. Liverpool 1969, but it never attracted much traffic. Then they built I-79, and that's where the traffic goes now. E. Liverpool has died, and nothing has worked to revive it. In her opinion, the 4-lane expressway killed that town.
Q-4: John Sliker (economist from Alexander) I-86 runs through the Southern Tier, which is similar to Wyoming Co., but now the area is impoverished. The rural counties in that area each have an expressway, but their unemployment is higher than in Wy. Co. He used to live in Hornell. An expressway doesn't create economic development; you must create a reason for trucks to STOP for economic development to occur. We only need to get rid of about 1000 trucks a day, and we're considering spending half a billion dollars to get rid of them? It would just be cheaper to pay them to stay on the Thruway.
Chuck Davenport - Is there enough $ in the pot to build this new road? At the School focus group, DOT discussed the Continental One highway project, which seeks to connect Toronto to Miami via existing network of multi-lane roads (only 3 people in room have even heard of this). We’re in high priority NAFTA corridor, and there is a movement to connect 390 to Buffalo/Niagara region. Don’t let anyone tell you it won’t happen… the $ is there in the federal NAFTA pot, if nowhere else.
Q-5: Gerald Landowski - Continental One is supposed to go from Buffalo to Miami, and is connected to a controversy about making Peace Bridge bigger.
Karen McCulley- Traffic safety and mobility is a local issue, but Continental One is not. It is supposed to use 219 to get through NY to PA, but lawsuits over tribal land and historic farms are holding up 219 completion – we in the Rt. 63 Corridor are their 'Plan B', and we must see bigger picture. It is even more important to talk to local, state officials, go the next step, help us fight.
Q-6: - Why WOULDN’T we want the Continental One corridor?
(Chuck) - They can have it, but let them use existing roads -- the thruway and I-390.
You sound like you’re against trucking, you should consider what trucking industry does for you…
(Chuck)-We don’t want to be argumentative, we’re opposed to a highway, not truckers – we want to remove those vehicles that are not stopping, just passing through (about 1200 trucks/day) – we are not against local trucks contributing to local economy.
Are we as concerned about mobile homes? Are we as concerned about out of state cars?
(Chuck) - We are concerned about our local highways, such as Rt.63, carrying truck traffic for which it was never designed. DOT has told us that one loaded 53-foot trailer causes equivalent wear to 17,000 cars.
How can they do it safely & also on same roads – you said before trucks are only 30% of the traffic.
(Chuck)- No it’s 45%.
Q-9: Chris Kotan (E. Bethany) - She was in Nunda Regional Action Group for the Environment (RAGE) when Retsof Salt Mine closing/collapsing. They were concerned because incinerator ash would be trucked in. The new mine is on an ancient burial ground – watched it bulldozed & saw the bones.
Also, there is likely an ulterior motive… This new route will open a truck route between Texas Brine & American Rock Salt. George Bush is looking for oil reserves, Texas Brine has 94 wells that could hold millions of gals of oil…this fits into the government's agenda – bring in more trucks to transport LOCAL hazardous wastes – opens door to hazardous waste facilities; more research needs to be done!
Q-10: Jim Miller (small business owner, Attica)- If an American trucker goes to Canada he can only take one load; Canadian truckers can do whatever they want. Why should we give up our resources to benefit truckers from a foreign country?
Karen - We oppose a new highway in these three counties, not truckers. Keep in mind that we can elect new officials who are more sympathetic to our cause….
Q-11: Duane Spring (Rte 20) - Where can we get decent maps? A lot of people getting excited. They need a better map. I don't want to move to a new location only to find THAT'S where the new expressway will be built.
Chuck - I was on the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce’s Rte 63 Bypass Taskforce & was asked to leave because I was opposed to an Expressway.
Q-12: - Was Dan Burling invited tonight?
A-12: (Karen)- Didn’t invite officially because we thought if we officially invited him, we'd need to invite his opponent, and were concerned it would turn into political meeting in this election year. He is a resident of the community, and could have attended just as all of you attended.
Q-12(b): Sees both sides. Chairman of Comprehensive Planning Committee in Alexander works & for 3d largest trucking co. in world – truckers don’t make 1 cent on the dollar. The only way to keep owner-operators off back roads: take tolls off Thruway, lower speed limits, increase weight limits; it is faster & safer to keep trucks on Thruway.
A-12(b): (Karen)- We propose a two-point plant to make the Thruway more attractive and our corridor less attractive to pass-through commercial traffic. Toll changes require consent of State legislature, but we have a pilot project in mind. Our plan: enforce existing traffic laws, enforce speed zones, install rumble strips, traffic lights, roadside plantings, etc. to discourage traffic from using our corridor.
Q-13: Bill Begman (Alexander) - Thruway tolls were supposed to come off a long time ago. We don’t need another road; put tolls on Rte 63!
A-13: 2d time we heard that!
Q-14: Georgia Hall (south side of Attica)- Sierra Club might help us – they would support stopping urban sprawl by not building unnecessary roads.
Q-15: Diane Bolster (Batavia)- Goes horseback riding in Carlton Hill. Wants to move into the area but is afraid to move closer because of the threat of the Expressway.
A-15: (Chuck)- Don't say there is nothing we can do. I've been in touch with a group in Michigan whose expressway threat was farther along in the process, and the citizens won; they shut it down.
Q- Are DOT meetings closed to public?
(Chuck)- Contact the DOT or sign our sheets and we'll let you know when and where public meetings are to be held.
Q-: Esther Leadley- She grew up Rte 63 on dairy farm, travels 63 six days/week, representing Alexander, Bethany & Pavilion on the Gen. Co. Legislature. Her recommendations: urge LOCAL representatives to encourage good planning. We are a home rule state; the lowest common denominator (local gov't.) has final say. I don't think you can prevent this expressway, but you can GUIDE where it goes. I urge you to support ag & farmland protection planning and comprehensive planning.
The RPL held its third public meeting on July 12, 2002 at the Pavilion Fire Department Recreation Hall. Approximately 28 people from York, Leicester, Retsof, Piffard, Griegsville and Pavilion were in attendance. Here are minutes of the Public Comment session that followed the RPL's presentation.
Elected Officials Present:
Gerald Deming, Gary Moore, Wes Kennison, Norm Gates
Q-1: Dean Walton – An extension of 400 to 17 continuation would cut out trucks through this area, wouldn’t it? Has DOT or anyone else considered this?
A: Chuck Davenport – NYSDOT is pumping money into extending Rte. 219 south to the Southern Tier Expressway, but they ran into problems with Springville into Salamanca. The situation is reportedly being, but the road doesn’t go anywhere since Pennsylvania DOT has not built up their end of Rte. 219. Another problem is that when you travel on I-86/17 you get to Olean and the highway makes a great big curve up north to connect to I-390. People living in that area will no doubt have meetings just like ours when trucks take short cuts through their villages. A related issue is the Continental One Corridor. If it is completed, it will be a network of existing roads connecting Toronto to Miami. Canada has already agreed their end of the Continental One and New York thought their end of it would be Rte. 219. But that doesn’t appear to be happening. New York has plowed dollars into rebuilding 15/86 interchange for increased truck traffic that is coming up Rte. 15 from Pennsylvania. PennDOT has put most of its resources into building up Rte. 15, which is the future I-99. We suspect that this will increase traffic through our corridor.
Q-2: Dean Walton – Tolls come out of drivers pockets. Maps don’t show speed zones. Canadians have the best equipment and they drive like they’re in their own country – we’re not used to it. Truckers look at miles only, not other issues, don’t they? And
Canadians drive in the US like they do in Canada?
A: Chuck – The NY State Thruway Authority does not tell us how much they lose in tolls from trucks taking a shortcut through Rte. 63. Bigger trucks pay double tolls. Big trucks erode
highways much faster than cars do on the same highways (17,000 or 10,000ccar equivalents per truck). Truckers are paid to use the shortest route, yielding the most money. Pass through trucks are the trucks we are concerned about. We suggest adding stop signs, red lights, etc., to control or calm traffic. Hazardous materials are on Rte. 63, with about 5 percent of the 3400 daily trucks carrying hazardous materials. Weigh stations are especially effective in controlling and stopping trucks on a given highway.
Audience Comment -- Install a weigh station at the corner of Rte. 36 and Rte. 63.
Q-3: School Bus Driver – Husband is an OTR truck driver. Hazardous materials are carried OTR and I am scared of those trucks. But, a worse problem is cars from NJ, Canada and MD. They don’t stop for school busses. Truckers have to pay a road tax so they will always take the shortest route.
A: Chuck – The cost of diesel fuel has risen dramatically as well.
Q-4: School Bus Driver – Some companies will reimburse drivers for their road tax and others will pay for the tolls. The rates have been cut since 9/11. Local truckers complain about out of state truckers.
A: Art Klein – It’s not the drivers but the number of trucks out there. Canadian equipment is not good, it’s inferior to what’s used in the US, and they are often overweight. We really need more law enforcement—get troopers to enforce laws, especially weight laws. Although we advocate making it attractive for truckers to stay on I-390 and I-90, it might require making the I-90 toll-free or exempt from tolls westbound.
Trucks try to avoid going through Mt. Morris because of enforcement.
I drove a gas truck for 40 years and never had an accident. Cars cause accidents.
Tax exempt west-bound traffic and give truckers a ticket for their mileage tax, which can be redeemed.
A: Chuck – Maybe we should look at the possibility of making the Thruway an Empire Zone.
Audience Comments – Civil service workers want tolls to keep their jobs.
Q-5: Could the RPL suggest that to elected officials? Would the
formation of an Empire Zone support this solution?
Wes Kennison – We’ve never addressed the issue of roads and the impact that NAFTA has had on roads with Washington, which is who authored NAFTA. This model would reimburse people losing out now. The problem is we don’t have the model now. Perhaps you can use Empire Zone as a pitch, as a model; free trade was meant to stimulate business. Maybe you could suggest that tolls would be a fed reimbursement to state.
Karen McCulley – Section of Rte 20A has weight limit lowered (9 tons). To lower weight limits requires act of legislation unless there is a safety issue, in which case DOT has authority. One of the more serious danger spots within the corridor is Peoria Curve.
Kennison – In 2005, there will be an access road (on & off Rte 20). A study in Avon is currently being conducted.
Q-6: How can you sort out local trucks from pass-through? Aren’t you in danger of hurting local trucks?
Chuck – It is not an easy task, but might involve new signage, plus the use of tolls on some roads and the elimination of tolls on other roads. New Jersey passed a law that requires any truck not doing local business to stay on the national network of roadways. The trucking industry challenged the law in court. The court upheld the law. The trucking industry appealed the decision and lost again. In Connecticut, tolls were removed altogether. Trucks began once again to use the highway. Some people have widened the shoulders on Rte. 63 themselves. The new highway threatens tourism in the area.
Q7: I’m glad the RPL is passionate. I am angry. I’m learning, and willing to help. Anything, even going door-to-door. What about salt mine issues?
A: We do not have fresh information on salt mine traffic, but studies have been done. The DOT’s Rte. 63 Corridor Study area geographically includes Darien Lake and the salt mine.
At the request of Darien Center Deputy Town Supervisor Joanna Johnson, the RPL held its fourth public meeting on July 26, 2002 at the new Town Hall in Darien Center. More than 250 people attended. In attendance were several local elected officials and representatives from the offices of Congressman Tom Reynolds, Assemblyman Dan Burling, and Assemblyman. Here are the minutes of the Public Comment session that followed the RPL's presentation.
Audience Comment1: John Sackett (County Legislator, former teacher at Wyoming CS, former Byron Town Supervisor and Genesee County Legislator) –
Sign our form letter, and either you or we will send it to the elected
official of your choice
Contact your local elected officials; they start the funding process. They
need to know you will use the power of the vote if they don’t hear you. Let
hem know your will; discuss these issues with the local elected officials;
prevent distraction of our committee’s work.