Traffic congestion on Route 96 in the village of Victor has been an issue Mayor Gary Hadden says he’s been hearing about since he moved there at six years old.
“Growing up and becoming a local official, I have heard nothing but the same for many, many years,” Hadden said.
Studies to address the bottleneck issue date back to 1998, according to Hadden.
“Fast forward to 2018, the town hired consultants and got a grant to do a Route 96 Transformative Corridor Study,” Hadden said. “And that’s kind of what really pushed us forward. I was on the task force for that study, and the number one thing in the study was traffic congestion in Route 96.”
Then in 2019, the Access Management Plan started, Hadden explained. On top of this, there was a Feasibility Study for a proposed local road called Adams Street Extension.
“The town and the village had to front some money for these studies, but received grants to do it,” Hadden said.
So where are we now?
The most recent study, the Access Management Connectivity Plan, is coming to a close. So is the Adams Street Feasibility Study.
“We’ve hired consultants in these plans and experts in the field to help direct us,” Hadden said. “Where do we go? How do we get this done?”
The number one thing local officials are focusing on now is the Adams Street Extension option in the plan. That would be a local road that would run from School Street in the Village, west to Route 251. It would serve as a traffic relief valve and give opportunity for trail connections, sidewalks and bike paths.
The challenge, is that they plan to build it down an existing railroad bed. The rail is still there, and the land is owned by the County. The rail is leased by the Finger Lakes Railway Company, according to Hadden. It’s no longer active and ends at Route 251.
Hadden said there’s only one business left on that rail, and that’s Victor Insulators, a locally-owned company founded in 1893.
CEO Ira Knickerbocker gave us this statement:
“An essential component of Victor Insulators’ business is the use of rail service for supply deliveries. In particular, Victor Insulators relies on these rail lines to deliver key ingredients for its manufacture of high voltage porcelain insulators. If the railways servicing Victor Insulators are removed, deliveries of these materials would have to be made over roads, which will greatly increase costs to Victor Insulators and put it at a great economic disadvantage to its competitors. Thus, the contemplated removal of the railway along Adams Street would create a significant economic hardship for the company that could ultimately require its closure.”
Mayor says change shouldn’t put that company out of business
“The reality is, he’s not using the railway now, and he’s still open and getting raw materials,” Hadden said when asked about Victor Insulators. “We’re hoping that he can stay open and be successful. I would not want to see harm come to that situation and no one would.”
Hadden insisted he doesn’t want the sentiment and the history of the railway to be destroyed.
LaBella Associates is scheduled to unveil the Connectivity Access plan on November 21 to the Village and Town boards.
“We firmly believe this is the best option for the future of the community,” Hadden concluded.
At the end of the day, the decision about the whether or not this plan can go forward is between Finger Lakes Railway and Ontario County. The Village and Town of Victor can’t make the decision.
Rebecca is a veteran multimedia journalist serving as one of our core reporters in the Finger Lakes region. She is responsible for telling stories that matter to every day Upstate New Yorkers. Have a question or lead? Send it to [email protected].