- By Dan Veaner
This week a highway crew has been installing storm drains and shoulders on Myers Road between the Lansing schools and Myers Park. While it may appear to be a small road project, it is only part of a solution to a problem that has been plaguing the neighborhood for a long time. The project popped out of nowhere this summer to help address the speeding problem on the a road where many children live and play. Along with radar signs and increased patrols, town officials hope their rapid response to the issue will greatly reduce speeding by the 4th of July.
"Cricket (Highway Superintendent Charlie 'Cricket' Purcell) and I were sitting at the front of this meeting and they asked us 'when can you get started?'", Lansing Town Supervisor Ed LaVigne recalls. "Both of us, at the same time, said, 'Tomorrow.' They were shocked that this will be done before July 4th of this year -- that a government can actually do this. We had the money for it, because we always spend under budget. The board approved it so we could do it now. That's what we're doing this year. We're also hoping to do something on the other hill, as you walk down from Myers Heights Road down to Salt Point -- we hope to address at least one side of that, probably next week."
The meeting came as a result of another meeting held last April by the New York State Department Of Transportation (NYSDOT) to explain plans for replacing the Salmon Creek Bridge on Route 34B near Lansing Middle School. Neighbors were concerned that Myers Road would have a significant increase in traffic, including drivers who would drive along their road at the same speed, or faster, as the 45 mile speed limit on the state road, despite the 25mph posted speed on Myers Road.
"We all know that Myers Road is going to be the unofficial detour," LaVigne says. "Except for large trucks -- those detours will be posted on state roads, so they'll have to go on Route 90 and cut over, up and around. So I told people to reach out to me. Sometimes you drive up the road not realizing you're not going 25 miles per hour - you're going 45 because you're pulling a boat behind you. I've done that myself. It's easy to do."
Residents were so frustrated with speeders that they purchased yard signs that read, "Drive Like Your Kids Live Here". Almost every yard sported a sign -- for one day. That night all the signs were stolen.
"We had our meeting on a Wednesday, and Thursday night they were gone," LaVigne says. "I think they sent a very strong message. It makes a very strong point when you say 'drive like your child lives here'. I hope the Sheriff catches the culprit, because I hate people who steal signs."
One of the remedies Purcell proposed at that meeting was storm drains to replace hazardous ditches. It was decided to cover the storm drains with a packed stone surface because of fears that paved shoulders would encourage even more speeding. The new shoulder on the north side of the road is 7 feet, and the south shoulder is 5 feet. The rest would be filled and sodded to match existing yards.
The project cost of $46,000 was approved 4-0 at a Town Board meeting a week and a half ago. The money was allotted from the unreserved fund balance, money that resulted from under-spending the Town budget. An additional $10,000 was approved to purchase two portable, solar powered, programmable radar signs that show a driver's speed on a digital readout, and are capable of collecting data on vehicle speed. They will initially be used on Myers Road, but will be moved around the Town as needed in other locations. A similar sign in the Village of Lansing has helped reduce speeding as you enter the Village from the North on Triphammer Road.
LaVigne says neighbors asked for speed bumps, but he asked them to wait and see how the combination of measures -- the gravel shoulders, radar signs, and increased patrols -- work before considering bumps. Speed bumps make it difficult to plow snow in the winter, which potentially causes damage to both the roads and plowing equipment.
LaVigne says that scheduled road jobs are not suffering because of the insertion of the Myers Road project.
"Not everybody was on this crew," he says. "Cricket is extremely organized. He's a great motivator. And these people take tremendous pride when you challenge them. And at the end of the day they ought to be praised because they are phenomenal. The main thing I hope everybody comes away with is how well we work as a board. We work with our Highway Department to bring value and address the needs of our residents. This was not planned. It came out of left field. And we jumped right on it. I believe that is because we have great chemistry on the Board."
LaVigne cautioned residents not to engage with speeders, but rather to call the Sheriff's office.
He notes that the purpose and usage of the road has changed over the years as Lansing has grown.
"It was 55mph when I grew up here," he says. "The road didn't actually go down to the Town park - it went to Ladoga Park. Things have changed. Our roads are antiquated by the mere fact that we have more people. It's not just this one. There are very few shoulders. People want to exercise. They want to walk. But we don't want them to do it at their peril."
The result is that other roads will be slated for ditch replacement with more storm drains and road shoulders.
"I think that now, with the wide shoulders, the Highway Department has done a phenomenal job. A lot of these were just farm roads. They weren't meant for high traffic. One of the things I talked to our Highway Superintendent about is that this will be one of our missions for the next two and a half years or whatever, -- when we can and budget allows -- to methodically put shoulders on the roads and bring them up to the 21st century."