The State DOT revealed its final design for the N-S Arterial remake last night at a meeting of the ArtsWest Alliance. . . .
It is going to be even worse than expected for West Utica!
While the bridge over Court St. and cut offs of Sunset Avenue and Warren Street are bad enough, the big surprise and disappointment was that the current single bridge over Oriskany Blvd., Lafayette and Columbia Streets will be replaced by separate bridges . . . with retaining walls holding up the Arterial in-between.
People have somewhat adapted to the current viaduct overhead. There is plenty of room under the viaduct for light, air and people to pass through, and people are using the space as covered parking. But having the openness replaced with a stone wall . . . even one designed to look like it was built of stone blocks from the Chenango Canal . . . will further detract from and distinctly divide the neighborhood.
Another disappointment is that the northern intersection of Lincoln Ave with Court Street will be eliminated. Lincoln will end at Roberts Street. This seems to negate the one good thing that is being proposed: an extension of the dead end of Lincoln Ave to a new intersection with Burrstone Road -- restoring an old access point.
What drivers gain in greater speeds on the arterial, they lose in having to go out of their way to get on the Arterial -- or to go across the Arterial.
Interestingly, state officials were unable to estimate the maximum distance someone would have to detour to drive from one side of the Arterial to the other given the proposed street closures. Nor were they able to estimate the additional time such a detour would take. Ease of access is a major consideration in locating a business. It should be clear from looking at a map that large areas of West Utica will become backwaters because they will be harder to get to and through.
State officials were also unable to estimate the loss in tax revenue to the City of Utica and the Utica City School District from the large number of property takings. How is the city expected to make up the revenue? They dismissed the question by noting that the City now owns many parcels. No one thinks how many parcels have fallen into city ownership because of the uncertainty of what the Arterial remake would create.
As disappointing as the state's presentation was, the seeming acceptance by local elected officials and community activists was even more so. They know what this project will do to West Utica because they have expressed their concerns in the past. They have the biggest stake in this issue and are looked upon to provide leadership.
They need to do so now. An alternative to this project MUST be found. Otherwise it will be the undoing of West Utica.