Some residents in Irondequoit continue to ask state transportation officials to scrap a plan to reduce the number of lanes on Empire Boulevard.
The New York State Department of Transportation says the project, rolled out last summer and due to take place next spring, will make the road safer.
Christopher Burns is leading the fight against the plan. Burns, an Irondequoit resident, drives Empire Boulevard daily.
“Right now the residents don’t feel good about this plan to change,” said Burns.
Traffic engineers call it a "road diet," cutting two lanes of traffic in each direction down to one; adding turning lanes in the middle, and bike lanes on the outside. The project will also extend sidewalks in areas where there are currently none.
Burns conducted online polls, asking neighbors for their thoughts. He says he found them to be largely opposed to the plan.
Congestion, he says, is a main concern.
However, the department cites traffic studies which say there is no longer enough traffic on the road to support four lanes. Burns and other neighbors don’t buy that. They’re asking the state to pump the brakes and to work with neighbors on a better plan.
“For so many of them the response was bewilderment,” he said. “Like, gosh, what in the world were they thinking?"
The department says reducing lanes will lower speeds on Empire Boulevard, reduce crashes and give it a safer neighborhood feel. A spokesman says there are no plans for additional meetings, but is still accepting public comment on the project.
Burns supports lowering the speed limit to slow traffic. He wants safe roads but believes Empire Boulevard already is.
“Folks really oppose this change,” he said. “And want to have that discussion, want to have that dialogue to achieve those safety impacts in a way that's not going to hinder our neighborhood."