Detour traffic squeezes merchants
PENN YAN—The closed Liberty Street bridge and resulting detour have caused problems for both drivers in the village and the businesses in downtown Penn Yan.
A number of stores on Main Street, where the flow of traffic is being diverted while the Liberty Street bridge is closed, have reported a drop in sales. Josh Trombley, owner of the Keuka Restaurant, said business is down about 15 percent overall. In particular, he said the lunch-time crowd from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. is especially down. He said people seem to avoid coming to downtown Penn Yan during that time-frame “like it’s the Bubonic Plague.” However, he added that other times (like for dinner and on the weekends) are not as bad.
Dottie Blood said business at Henderson’s Pharmacy has dropped about 10 percent comparing October 2011 to October 2010.
One complaint Blood said she’s heard is that even if someone finds parking on Main Street, few drivers will let them quickly merge back into traffic. She suggested one way to improve the traffic issues would be to make the stop lights coordinated. The three traffic lights in the downtown area of Main Street do not always change colors at the same time. Blood said it is particularly bad going south on Main Street.
She said one other alternative would be to have an officer directing traffic when it is really busy. However, Blood said she knows that would be hard to do because the law enforcement agencies can’t always be able to spare the manpower.
“It’s very inconvenient,” said Jack Payne, owner of Pinckney Hardware. He added between the economy and the bridge closure, business is “down double digits” comparing October 2011 and October 2010.
Payne said the lack of parking is a problem for not just customers, but employees as well. He added that it is hard to navigate in and out of the Main Street parking spots. He said his suggestion for improving the traffic situation would be helping people find the available parking spots behind the businesses.
“I think if they had signs on Main Street and Elm Street, directing people more to the parking, it would help people who don’t know about the free parking,” he said.
Jim Long, owner of Longs’ Cards and Books, said business this past October is down about five percent compared to October 2010.
“Customers tell me they’re avoiding downtown,” added Long. He said one idea to improve business is to hold some sort of promotion to encourage customers to shop at the downtown stores.
Katie Kegresse, owner of Goin’ Postal, suggested 15 minute parking at the most accessible spots along Main Street. She said two parking spots in front of Cam’s Pizzeria were turned into a loading zone, but marked on the street as just “No Parking.”
When talking about the traffic problems, Kegresse said “It’s all anybody talks about when they come in.” However, she called the closed bridge detour a “necessary evil” because there are no options in diverting excess traffic unless it is completely out of the way.
The Yates County Chamber of Commerce planned a meeting for Wednesday, Nov. 2, with local merchants to discuss possible options to help alleviate the downtown traffic problem.