By Rich Place
The public will have the opportunity to offer feedback on proposed changes to the intersection of Genesee Road, Sibley Road and Route 240 during a meeting Monday, Dec. 4 at the East Concord Fire Department.
The meeting is expected to include town and county officials, as well as engineers, to explain potential solutions to remedy the awkward intersection where the three roads converge. The idea of installing a roundabout, a four-way stop and a traffic light have all been considered, most recently at a Concord town board meeting over the summer.
“This will take a care of a real, real bad situation that has existed for many, many years,” said Legislator John Mills, R-Orchard Park, who has been involved for several years in searching for potential remedies.
A roundabout “seems to make the most sense,” Concord Town Supervisor Gary Eppolito said this week, but the decision has yet to be finalized. Public conversation at the meeting Monday could help aid officials in making a decision, he said.
“If there’s a lot of opposition to it, that may be rethought,” he said. “But right now that seems to make the most sense. I can tell you this — one thing everyone agrees with is that something has to be done.”
The Erie County Department of Public Works’ highway division last October announced federal funding had been secured for the study, design and construction of intersection improvements there following a review that spanned three years of traffic reports from the site.
Prior to the study’s commencement, oversized stop signs, coupled with signs that noted “cross traffic does not stop” were installed on Genesee Road at the intersection. Additional warning signs were placed along Genesee Road in advance of the intersection.
But throughout the last couple years — and more specifically over the past few months — conversation amongst officials has been focused on whether a roundabout would provide the safest alternative at the intersection.
One of the largest obstacles with the potential installation of a roundabout is the nearby East Concord Cemetery, Eppolito said, but within the last few months a solution had been reached with the help of engineers to not impact the cemetery.
“They came up with a way a roundabout could be installed there,” Eppolito said.
Although a four-way stop has been considered successful at the nearby intersection of Genesee Road and Springville-Boston Road, Eppolito and Mills both agreed this intersection at Route 240 is much different.
Eppolito said the confusion of Sibley Road also entering the intersection at Route 240 makes it more difficult to install a four-way stop there.
The presence of Sibley Road would also make it difficult to install a traffic signal at the intersection, the town supervisor added. In addition, Eppolito said the town would be required to maintain it, a service it doesn’t routinely offer.
“It would be very expensive because we don’t have a department to do that,” he said. “We’d have to contract that out, and it creates a whole other host of problems in itself.”
And even if a roundabout appears to be the favored option among some local officials, that doesn’t mean it won’t come without questions of its own. One of the most notable challenges is the overall concept of a roundabout itself, a still unusual traffic pattern in this area.
“It’s a new concept for people because it’s going to be different compared to what they are used to doing,” Mills said, “but there’s no way to avoid putting something like that in there because it requires taking care of multiple roads entering that one intersection.”
Questions have also been raised concerning large truck and fire truck traffic being able to navigate around the roundabout, said Mills. However, the roundabout will be mostly flat with no plantings in the middle circle, he said, allowing traffic to navigate over — instead of around — the circle if required.
“It will just be for tractor trailer wheels can go over it,” he said. “That’s going to make it more fluid.”
Following public comment on Monday, a final design will be chosen with construction expected to begin in the spring, said Mills.
The public hearing on the intersection will allow for the public to offer their feedback on the project prior to its finalization. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 4 at the East Concord Fire Department hall near the old railroad tracks on Genesee Road.