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The University of Rochester, city and state are pushing to spend more than $100 million to add a new interchange on Route 390 at Kendrick Road. The project would also make improvements to the congested Routes 15 and 15A.

The University of Rochester claims it cannot grow and add jobs without its own on-ramp.

There’s a guy who wrote a book called “Walkable City” who slams these kinds of arguments.

Jeff Speck calls traffic studies “bull—-” and talks at length about the phenomenon of induced demand. If you expand roads, more people will drive on them and you’re left with even worse congestion:

Induced demand is the name for what happens when increasing the supply of roadways lowers the time cost of driving, causing more people to drive, and obliterating any reductions in congestion.


I was delighted to read the following recently, in Newsweek, hardly an esoteric publication: “demand from drivers tends to quickly overwhelm the new supply; today engineers acknowledge that building new roads usually makes traffic worse.”


…you are paying to drive whether you drive or not, in which the more you drive, the less each mile costs, and in which the greatest constraint to driving, then, is congestion. While the cost of the trip will rarely keep us home, the threat of being stuck in traffic often will, at least in our larger cities. Congestion saves fuel because people hate to waste their time being miserable.

Speck isn’t necessarily arguing congestion is a good thing. Rather, he’s saying it’s silly to keep spending tax dollars to encourage more driving and create more congestion. The way to relieve congestion is something no one likes to talk about – public transit.

Meanwhile, the U of R scuttled the bus station component of the College Town project, even though in a recent Rochester Business Journal article, RGRTA said the college is its number one destination. The U of R and the college are still working on a transit plan.

Maybe that should be the priority, not an exit that will likely not alleviate traffic and could make it worse.

Links of the Day:

– RG&E and NYSEG were ripped by the state for managing on the fly and cutting staff.

– The gambling lobby is taking advantage of Hurricane Sandy and telling state officials casinos can help fill state coffers again.

– Say Yes, the organization that offers free college tuition to Syracuse and Buffalo students, often exaggerates its claims of success.

Hotels, some in historic buildings, sprout up in downtown Buffalo.

– The strongest housing markets are in walkable urban areas.

November 19 is World Toilet Day.

16 Responses to Debunking the 390 On-Ramp

  1. I live off of Rt 15 very close to the U of R, and while I agree with what Mr. Speck says, I also think that there should be a better way of getting people from 390 to the UR/Strong complex. In this case, such a high volume of people are already going to that location that there needs to be a more efficient method of getting those cars to their destination. The intersections at Rts 15 and 15A near E River Rd and the 390 ramps have some of the highest volumes of traffic incidents in the county (I can’t find the citation, but there was an article in the D&C about it a couple of years ago) and something truly needs to be done. Does that necessarily mean adding a new ramp to Kendrick Rd? Maybe, especially if they can make the Rt 15 and 15A intersections smaller. there is already enough Brighton and Henrietta traffic here that redirecting the UR-specific traffic should help. I’m not an expert, but I deal with the roads here every day and what we have now doesn’t work. I am in favor of trying something else.

  2. I don’t know if I agree with your feeling on this particular issue. You’ve made your feeling on sprawl well known. I don’t see this as adding to sprawl. The UR campus is where it is. It employs a great many people. They need to get to work. As the previous post mentioned ( a personal observation of the current traffic ), there is a congestion already. If UR foresees future job growth, it only makes sense to improve your infrastructure. Our economy works when money is being spent and jobs are created or sustained. This project is a benefit for everyone. Just my thoughts….

  3. I think it can be totally agreed that regardless of if U of R needs an entirely new exit at Kendrick Rd, the situation of the on ramps for E and W. Henrietta at 390 are currently awful and extremely poorly designed. The fact that you have to drive from W to E to get on 390 South and E to W to get on 390 N is absurd, both of those cross roads could be turned into on-ramps onto the highway and save a significant amount of congestion at those lights. Those lights are extremely congested at work hours and common sense solutions will save time, accidents, and improve public safety. And like others have said, U of R is where it is, parking there is already miserable, its not as if a positive for jobs at U of R is ease of accessibility in the least, yet still most live out in the suburbs, because market forces allow that, the suburbs for many are simply more enjoyable of a lifestyle than a city.

  4. November 18, 2012 at 8:59 pm RaChaCha responds:

    Several things about this are ridiculous, but principally: 1) The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council made its #1 “economic development” project A HIGHWAY OFF RAMP. No wonder the regional plan was so poorly received compared to both of the adjoining regions. 2) Not a dime of this funding seems to be allocated to even studying other ways of getting to and from the U of R, like light rail from downtown to the U of R and beyond to RIT. 3) This apparently is not tied to a simultaneous ramp-up of efforts to get U of R employees living within walking/biking distance or using public transportation.

    This project just kind of sucks all the way around — as does the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development plan in which it is a top priority.

  5. It was the “The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council that made its #1 “economic development” this exit.

    And the head of that council? The UR PREZ. Thats a conflict of interest if there ever was one. Never a mention of it anywhere in this town. What a UR Prez can’t have questionable ethics?

    Does anyone ever think to ask the UR to pay for the exit? What they don’t have enough money? They aren’t a profit for company? Those arguments don’t hold water.

    Wegmans pays for new road work around their stores. Bob Wegman wanted to fund the re-do of the Brooks underpass for his trucks, he was turned down.

    Why cant the UR fund the exit if they want it? And why does this private school look year after year for taxpayer funding for their projects, and then reject US kids in favor of international students whose parents pay no US taxes and never have?

  6. November 18, 2012 at 11:41 pm RaChaCha responds:

    I’m sure with the Vinny Esposito brain trust now in place at Empire State Development that all problems are well on their way to solved!!!

  7. November 19, 2012 at 9:10 am Hahvahd St responds:

    People could also try alternative methods to get to UR. I work at RGE on Scottsville Rd, and I specifically drive through the city from my house near Park Ave to avoid that quagmire around 15/15A. You could get off at 383 to go to UR, that is a much less crowded exit.
    Also, more people should ride their bikes to UR. The canal and river trails basically act as bike highways and you can get there on a bike very easily from the burbs.

  8. Build it, and they will sprawl.

  9. November 19, 2012 at 6:21 pm Brian M. responds:

    The facts stand: cars are the #1 net contributor to climate chnage. And the new addition to I-390 will increase traffic. Is U of R really at the forefront of innovation and betterment of society when they do stuff like push for more car traffic and push aside plans for increased bus service?


    • November 19, 2012 at 6:23 pm Brian M. responds:

      change*, excuse me.

      In the meanwhile, I’ll just keep on splitting lanes through the eternal lines of cars in and around U of R on my motorcycle.

      • I’m glad that your answer to traffic is to take a motorized vehicle and blatantly break the law and put yourself, automobile drivers, and pedestrians at risk. Great choice.

        • November 20, 2012 at 9:39 am Brian M. responds:

          When I know the norm is sitting there in my idling car, the engine detonating gallons upon gallons of gasoline from being stuck in clogged traffic, bored out of my mind and breaking the law by staring at my iPhone… then I know I’d rather be on a bike breaking another law (which in turn is nonsensical, biased & inefficient) and making more efficient use of gasoline.

          • Making all vehicles follow the same traffic laws as cars is certainly not nonsensical (it improves safety, just like the same laws do for cars), it’s not biased to have the same laws apply for all vehicles, and orderly traffic improves efficiency rather than lower it.

            At least you’ll be close to Strong…

  10. November 26, 2012 at 11:32 am Brian M. responds:

    Are you sincere? A motorcycle contributing to traffic congestion by sitting in a line of cars, is more efficient than allowing the motorcycle to go through in the large gap between lines of cars? Do you not understand how motorcycles ease congestion by not being 100-cubic-feet boxes?

    Lane-splitting is legal in California because of the legendarily horrible traffic there. Everyday, hundreds of thousands of motorcycles lane-split over there. Just because the rest of the country shapes its laws obsequiously around 100-cubic-feet boxes (and calls them “safety” laws), doesn’t make it right to impose car-based laws upon other, more efficient forms of transportation.

  11. November 26, 2012 at 11:35 am Brian M. responds:

    Another thing: the younger generations (Gen. Y, etc) are showing dislike and resistance to the automobile society due to many factors.

    After your current tax dollars flow toward adding further to the automobile infrastructure, the younger generations (myself being part of them) will be dismantling them. Cars are the #1 contributor to climate change. Cars contribute to untold numbers of societal ills (alienation, economic inefficiencies, etc). The automobile paradigm, in itself, is not sustainable.

    What a waste.

  12. Pingback: Garages & Lots NOT the Answer » The Rochesterian

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