Sunday, May 04, 2008

Wham Bam . . .

The impending State reconstruction of the North-South Arterial presents a unique opportunity to increase the desirability of a large Utica neighborhood -- if the right choice is made.

The pictures certainly look pretty. An overpass over Court Street with a roundabout beneath, and a pedestrian (only) bridge at Sunset, seem to be the official plan of choice. Perhaps the idea is that people going home to New Hartford from the Stanley will be able to get on the arterial at Court without having to stop at a light.

Wham, Bam, Thankyou, Ma'am!

People do live and work in this area. Pedestrians walking along Court will face walls and have a 'roundabout' route. Drivers along Sunset will be cut off entirely, while pedestrians will be forced to use a footbridge. Other streets will be cut entirely. While the footbridge has been cited as creating an "urban grandeur feeling," how grand would you feel while being mugged in a place where police vehicles have no access and where drivers passing beneath at 60 MPH are too busy to notice?

The fact is, these kinds of highways through neighborhoods are death for the neighborhoods they pass through. They were mistakes from the early days of the Interstate system when we did not know better... but people know better now, and we know there are viable alternatives.

Baltimore and Washington, DC saw the light and stopped interstates from slicing through town (I-95 now follows the Capital Beltway). San Francisco and New York have replaced elevated highways with boulevards at grade level. Buffalo is now considering the same thing. Read the Buffalo link, particularly the examples of successful boulevards from other cities presented in the last few pages.

Route 840 and its grade-level crossings has encouraged development in suburban locations that now require heavy taxpayer investment in infrastructure. Meanwhile, the State's proposal for Utica will actually cut off access to places where the infrastructure for development is already in place but under-utilized. Is this short sighted, or what?

Madam Utica has already been raped by local policies that take money out of the pockets of city residents and redistribute it to the suburbs (water and sewer fees). It must not be physically raped by a highway that will wall off West Utica to development.

This plan must be changed.


Anonymous said...

Let's relocate State Rt 5,8,12 down Genesee Street. Is that what you want? Viewing the plans at Utica City Hall 5/6/08 and the plans only improve the area. They make it easier visitors and residents to travel between the east and west side of the North-South Arterial

Anonymous said...

"redistribute it to the suburbs (water and sewer fees)" What about the aging infrastructure in Utica. Rate payers are supporting that too.
Most of the new mains Whitesboro, New Hartford, Deerfield, Trenton (NOT the New Hartford Business park) are paid by the residents who receive the water.
When the city owned the water they used the income to "balance the budget" maybe if the city water maintained there assets Gray dam wouldn't needed to be demo'd.

Strikeslip said...

I think you have your directions mixed up Anonymous . . . Once you get south of Oriskany Blvd, the plans virtually cut off one side of the arterial from the other. Sunset and Warren are severed, requiring a circuitous route to go from one side to the other. The interchanges proposed for Court will be a nightmare for pedestrians to navigate.

The "Multiway Boulevard" is the way to go. It has proven elsewhere its capacity to handle traffic without killing off the host city.

Strikeslip said...

Regarding water charges, residents in the city have already paid off a good chunk of the construction of the water filtration plant -- the new comers in the suburbs, however, because they have come late, will only pay the tail end of the financing.

In so far as sewers go, the City has a separate sewer tax for sewer maintenance. The suburbs have no separate tax for their sewers, but city users are now paying for the suburban remediation required by the consent order. The suburbs grew their tax base through violations of the law -- but City residents are made to pay for it.

Strikeslip said...

I don't mean for this to turn into a City vs Suburb thing -- mistakes have been made on both sides. But I've lived in the City and now live in the Suburbs -- and I see that they are not working together to meet each other's needs. Because the money tends to collect in the suburbs, the needs tend to collect in the city -- but we are ONE economic entity whether we like it or not... and from my perspective, if Utica dies, New Hartford will do so as well.

Anonymous said...

Sunset and Warren are only two streets! You still have Oswego, Noyes, Court to get across not to mention Burrstone (York Street). Sunset will have a walk way. I don't agree with the "cut off".

Strikeslip said...

The distance between Court and Noyes is significant for a "local" traveler, especially if one is on foot or bicycle. Most people don't want to walk a half-mile just to cross the street. The Pedestrian bridge proposed for Sunset is long, circuitous, and unlikely to be used. The interchanges proposed for Court will be a nightmare to walk through.

The problem here is that the Arterial will disrupt the "grid," lengthening short local trips within West Utica significantly . . . There is no need to do this because the Multi-way Boulevard will accommodate BOTH thru and local traffic. DOT needs to go Multi-Way -- and if it does not have the expertise in house to do this properly, then it should contract with firms in California or Europe that have the experience.