CITY OF NIAGARA – After raising concerns about the potential unintended consequences of a proposed truck stop on Porter Road, a member of planning council asked council to take an unusual step and hold a public hearing before make a recommendation on the project.
At a December 7 meeting held via Zoom, the planning board heard a presentation from Louis Terragnoli, director of real estate and development for Quicklee’s, Inc., who is looking to build a travel center at 6001-6025 Porter Road which caters to truckers and tourists. The planning council voted to table a concept plan after council member Ed Herman asked if it would be a good idea to let the public weigh before council makes a decision.
Herman questioned whether encouraging truck drivers to congregate in the area would attract unfavorable activity or generate increased crime. He also raised concerns about other quality of life issues for neighboring residents.
“We have 12 properties directly opposite the facility you are going to build,” Herman told Terragnoli. “And it definitely changes their way of life.”
Herman said he has read a lot about truck stops and some of the issues that come with them. In addition to concerns about things like increased traffic, noise pollution and wear and tear on the roads, Herman said he had also read that truck stops can attract drugs and prostitution.
However, Tarragnoli said all truckers must be tested for drugs and two other Quicklee locations – in Avon and Belmont, NY – have not encountered any issues. He invited those concerned about the facility to visit one of the other sites.
“I took my family to either facility at any time of the day or night,” Terragnoli told members of the board. “And I would invite you to come with me. “
Terragnoli said the facility would include a 12,000 square foot structure that would house both quick and full service restaurants and a convenience store. It will also offer equipment for truckers such as a weigh station, lounge, showers, and regular and diesel fuel stations.
He also said the company has identified a need for car wash stations for commercial truckers and buses, which will also be available at the site.
The Board of Directors raised concerns about the harmful effects of idling trucks for long periods of time. But Terragnoli said state law prohibits trucks from idling for more than five consecutive minutes.
“If (truckers are) there overnight for an extended period of time, they need to have another powertrain,” he said. “Propane or diesel will be the fuel source for this. ”
David Kruse of SRF Associates, a Rochester-based traffic engineering company, discussed a study conducted to determine how the travel hub would impact traffic in the area. He said the study focused on the typical peak hour periods of 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Kruse said that while this type of business would attract vehicles that are already in the area, rather than attracting new ones, the analysis led traffic consultants to determine that a signal change to allow more green light for eastbound traffic during the afternoon rush hour would be required. He also recommended that a left turn lane be installed at both travel center access points.
“With this improvement, we called and signaled that it should be considered (…) as a road regime and that with the volume of traffic existing in the area, Porter Road would be a good candidate for such a change while still allowing safer left turns.
However, he noted that this change would likely have to be managed by the state Department of Transportation.
Planning board chairperson Barbara Hathaway said she plans to discuss the possibility of a public hearing on the travel center with Supervisor Lee Wallace before proceeding with the proposal.