DOT Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

Q. How do I contact the director of the Department of Transportation?

Thomas J. Frys, Director
Monroe County Department of Transportation
City Place, Suite 6100
50 West Main Street
Rochester, NY 14614
Phone: 585 753-7720

Community Involvement Opportunities

Q. Who can participate in the ADOPT-A-HIGHWAY program or the MONROE COUNTY IN-BLOOM program?

Businesses, Community Service Groups, Churches, Alumni Clubs, Government Agencies, Professional Associations, Hospitals, Neighborhood Organizations and others can all ADOPT-A-HIGHWAY!

Q. What do you need to participate in the ADOPT-A-HIGHWAY or MONROE COUNTY IN-BLOOM programs?

The commitment of a minimum of ten volunteers, proof of insurance, basic yard tools and the desire to improve your community.

Q. Why your group should join the ADOPT-A-HIGHWAY or MONROE COUNTY IN-BLOOM program?

Exposure! Monroe County DOT will install two highway signs crediting your organization for its efforts. Thousands of motorists a day see these signs. It’s a great group activity. Many participating groups use their clean-up day as an opportunity to hold a post-clean-up picnic or other event.

As you participate in helping our environment, you gain public awareness. Not only is this an environmentally positive action, but also a fun and rewarding group activity for your club, group, or business!

It’s the environmentally responsible thing to do!

Q. What does my group have to do once we sign up?

ADOPT A HIGHWAY: Attend a roadside safety training session and pick up trash from the County right-of-way.

MONROE COUNTY IN-BLOOM: Your group will be responsible for planting and maintenance of a flower bed, weed control, spreading mulch, cutting grass, and attending to the watering needs of your flowers.

Q. What do we need to participate?

  • Individuals committed to the program.
  • Experience on similar types programs has shown that a minimum or ten volunteers will insure success
  • Proof of insurance
  • Basic yard tools such as rakes, shovels, spades, work gloves, etc.
  • Watering devices

Highway and Bridge Operations

Q. How do you determine which roads will be reconstructed and which road will just receive a new layer of asphalt?

Applying the most appropriate lowest cost treatment to roads in good condition keeps them in good condition and avoids costly paving and rehabilitation projects. The 660 centerline miles of roads under the jurisdiction of Monroe County vary in nature from rural to urban and there are a variety of pavement maintenance treatments that can be applied to our road system. By utilizing low cost pavement maintenance treatments we are able to annually maintain many more lane miles of county roads and keep many more miles of roadway in good condition. Working on roads and installing low cost maintenance treatments on roadway that are in good condition preserves previous investments and costs about 1/5 of the cost of asphalt repaving and rehabilitation. The benefits of this approach take time to realize, however since implementing this approach 10 + years ago we are seeing some improvement in the overall condition of our road network in spite of level or reduced budgets and increased and rising material and labor costs.

Highway and Bridge Engineering

Q. What is the difference between a bridge and a culvert?

A bridge is a crossing structure equal or greater than 20' in span.

Q. Who decides the dates that the Irondequoit Bay Outlet Bridge is moved?

A. The Irondequoit Bay Outlet is a navigable waterway that comes under the jurisdiction of the United States Coast Guard.

Q. Why isn't the Irondequoit Bay Outlet Bridge open to traffic year round?

A. This bridge is a seasonal moveable bridge and the operation of the bridge is dictated by the Code of Federal Regulations (33FR117) and the condistions of the Coast Guard Permit 5-97-9.  The permit requires thechannel to be open to boat nabigation between April 1 and November 1.

Q. What is a bridge deficiency rating?

A bridge deficiency rating is a number indicative of the overall condition of a bridge structure. The bridge is rated on a scale of 1 thru 7, with 7 indicating a brand new bridge and 1 a severely deteriorated bridge, that must be closed to traffic. Any bridge with a rating that is lower than 5 is considered deficient.

Q. How often are bridges and culverts inspected? By whom?

Bridges are inspected every two years by the New York State DOT. County bridges and culverts are inspected every four years by the County.

Traffic Operations and Permits

Q. Why do I call the county for problems with traffic signs, signals or pavement markings on City of Rochester streets?

The answer to this often asked question is traced back to the year 1970. In an effort to assist the City with their financial problem, the County entered into an agreement with the City. The agreement gave the County ownership and responsibility over all traffic engineering services in the City of Rochester. Therefore, all traffic signs, signals and pavement markings on city streets are installed and maintained by MCDOT. MCDOT also reviews design plans for all city street reconstruction projects.

Q. What makes signs and pavement markings appear to glow in the dark?

The material or “sheeting” used on traffic signs is Retroreflective. “Retroreflectivity” means that when light strikes the surface, it is reflected back to the source. When your vehicle's headlights shine on a sign, it is reflected back to the driver. The retroreflectivity is caused by tiny spherical glass beads imbedded in the sign sheeting. The same effect for pavement markings is achieved by dropping the tiny glass beads onto the wet paint as it is applied to the surface of the road.

Traffic Signal Engineering and Operations

Q. What makes the signal change as soon as I pull up to some intersections?

Traffic loops. These “loops” are wires buried in the roadway. When a vehicle drives towards an intersection that has a traffic signal, these loops detect the presence of the vehicle and send a message to the control unit of the traffic signal that there is a vehicle approaching. This helps to reduce waiting time for the vehicle and avoids having the signal change if no vehicle is waiting.

Q. How can I get traffic count information from the County?

Monroe County conducts manual tube counts on each roadway in the City and County on a four year cycle. An annual Highway Count Summary report is produced that provides the latest count information available. This report is distributed to other government agencies, consulting firms, and other interested parties that regularly use such count data. If you need count information for a particular location, contact us.

Q. Why do the walk lights provide so little time at many locations?

Pedestrian indications provide three displays: “walk,” flashing “don't walk,” and solid “don't walk.” Many displays now show these pictorially as a walking person, a flashing hand, and a solid hand. These indications have the following purpose:

  • “Walk” or the walking person symbol are intended as the designated time to step off the curb and begin the crossing. Pedestrians must check for conflicting vehicles before taking this first step. It is not intended that the person get all the way across the street on this indication.
  • Flashing “don’t walk” or the flashing hand symbol designates the time that a person who has already started to cross may continue to walk across the intersection. You should not begin crossing at this point, as there may no longer be enough time to get all the way from one side to the other side. However, anyone who began crossing during the “walk” interval has plenty of time to finish the crossing.
  • Solid “don’t walk” or the solid hand symbol designates the time at which no pedestrians should be in the crosswalk.

Q. How do you know how long to make the flashing “don't walk” interval?

This is timed based on the width you have to walk across. A wider crossing gets more time. The assumed walking speed is three and one-half feet per second, which is relatively slow to accommodate those that need some extra time.

Q. How do you decide where traffic signals are provided?

Traffic signals are the highest level of traffic control and must be used only where they are absolutely necessary. It is important to remember that traffic signals, while a great help to many locations, also come with some disbenefits, such as a possible increase in overall intersection delays and other problems associated with the interruption of traffic (examples include potential increase in certain accident types, added wear and tear on vehicles and pavement, and increased driver frustration).

New York State publishes guidelines known as signal warrants that define what constitutes the need for a signal. Some of the many factors considered include vehicular and pedestrian volume, the delays being experienced by side street vehicles, and accident history.