A former state official comments on the Arterial project, as reported on Dan Miner's blog.
Read the comments carefully. The public was presented with an "alternative in the planning study of going underneath Court Street [which] was never a viable realistic alternative." [Bracketed word mine]. The former official claims that the depressed alternative would require severance of Columbia and Lafayette Sts. However, this statement conflicts with the Depressed alternative presented to the public back in 2006 as designed by Greenman-Pederson/Saratoga Associates. Do you see any severed streets? People would have noticed that. In fact the news account of 11/28/2006 said that all current connections across the arterial would be maintained. Are we supposed to now believe that engineers presented the public with an impossible design?
Look at the Boulevard alternative as it was originally presented to the public back in 2006 and as designed by the same consultants. No streets were proposed to be severed. Court St. crosses the arterial at grade level. Two options for the Court/Arterial intersection were proposed: a broad landscaped median, or a roundabout. Later designs confused the public by showing a roundabout UNDER an overpass -- but this drawing makes clear that a grade level crossing was originally proposed. One cannot have a landscaped median option if it is under a bridge.
Was the Boulevard another alternative that "was never a viable realistic alternative" (drawn by an engineering firm) as far as DOT was concerned? Were problems built into the alternative to make it not viable? I was very nice to the DOT back in 2007 and tried to give the agency the benefit of the doubt when it looked like plans had been changed without notice. One of my readers, however, was more blunt, calling it Bait and Switch. Is the charge of Bait and Switch warranted?
One can get the impression that "straw men" were presented to the public so they could be knocked down in favor of what was desired all along. Essentially that was my reader's conclusion -- and mine as well.
I agree, as suggested by the official's comments, that the Boulevard alternative as originally proposed contains unacceptable levels of taking of private properties... Utica needs to preserve its tax base and needs to preserve places where businesses can set up shop.
But Utica also needs to ensure that its streets have full access both to the state highway system and across it. The Boulevard and the Depressed highway alternatives were both favored over an overhead or surface expressway. They met the city's needs. They should have been the starting point for further discussion. They were not. Both were cast aside in favor of a combination overhead and surface expressway... something that both the public and planners had rejected.
The state never developed real alternatives to this project -- such as one that would not funnel all the traffic from 3 state highways through this corridor, one that would restore and improve Oriskany Circle, one that would reconnect Whitesboro St., and one that would better use the traffic-carrying capacity of existing streets. Instead we are presented with trivialities, such as whether or not ivy will cover the wall that will separate us.
Memories may be short, but documents these days are easily copied, passed around, and filed away for future reference . . . and posted when necessary to set the record straight.
Let's avoid revising history when discussing this issue.