East Main Street improvement plan now ‘final,’ commissioner says

Jan 27, 2020

Rochester’s Department of Environmental Services has a final plan for improvements to East Main Street, commissioner Norman Jones said.

The Department of Environmental Services plan for an updated East Main Street calls for an increase in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.
Credit City of Rochester Department of Environmental Services

Speaking at a community meeting Thursday, Jones said the $25 million plan calls for protected bike lanes, streetside trees, repaved road surfaces and new LED streetlights. “My goodness!” he said in an interview outside the meeting. “You should be -- everybody should be happy about that.”

But not everyone is.

Dorothy Parham, the president of the EMMA neighborhood association, represents a community that runs along the southern side of the stretch of Main Street where construction is planned.

Parham said the city’s project is taking away too much car parking and replacing it with too many bike lanes. She said that’s “completely different” than the plans she had seen from the city just a few months ago.

“Everybody don’t ride bikes. The vast majority of them drive,” Parham said. “I feel there should be spaces for those that drive.”

Community members pore over diagrams of the city's plans for East Main Street at a meeting on Thursday.
Credit Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

Kyle Crandall, the president of the Beechwood Neighborhood Coalition, just across Main Street from Parham, said he’s supportive of the bike lanes, but he’s as miffed as Parham about the changes from the last iteration of the plan.

“We’ve been meeting with the city on this for easily 18 months,” Crandall said. “And we were told, repeatedly, that everything can’t fit.”

Previous designs had not included on-street parking, protected bike lanes and a center turn lane in every stretch of the street. Now, Crandall said, the city seemed to be saying they’d found space for all of those elements throughout the project.

“What changed?” he wondered. “Did all of a sudden the width of the street change? Did the state change their capacity requirements? Something had to change in order to make everything fit when they told us it couldn’t.”

Jones said this is the city’s final plan for East Main Street.

“We took a couple inches off the sidewalk and a couple inches off the bike lane to accommodate some on-street parking that we heard from our business community that they needed,” Jones said. “Basically we did some adjusting -- some addition and subtraction -- to make this a viable project so we meet the needs of everybody.”

Jones said the plan needs a City Council vote for official approval, but he doesn’t foresee any changes between now and then.