Friday, April 06, 2012

Not Budging . . .

At least that was the overall impression left after attending a rather frustrating meeting last evening with DOT officials about our favorite topic: The North-South Arterial.

Oh it was not that blatant.  There were the usual conciliatory tones that DOT is looking into "this" or "that"  alternative. . .  but we've been through the drill often enough to know that DOT only looks far enough to justify its own position which can be summarized as "My way IS the highway."  Then it becomes a matter of "expertise" (members of the public are not traffic engineers, you know) and current highway standards require X,Y and Z (i.e., DOT can't accommodate those needs).  The bottom line is that it's always a highway.

The inescapable fact is that the N-S Arterial is also a street -- an integral part of Utica's street grid -- but the proposal continues a 50 year tradition of making that local street system less functional by forcing people to drive out of their way for short local trips and to follow routes that are not intuitive.

Several Utica Council members being in attendance was no help.  Holding on to 62 million dollars seems to be their main concern as opposed to the dysfunction that 62 million will create in the Utica street grid. If I hear that we need to take a "regional"  perspective of the highway design one more time from one of these people it will be one time too many. Utica residents and businesses should not have to be inconvenienced to meet a "regional" need. If Utica goes down the toilet, the whole region will follow.

The take-away is that Sunset Avenue will ultimately be closed and a pedestrian bridge that few will use will take its place. 

Is DOT really incapable of designing a city street or streets that can accommodate the traffic of those who merely want to pass through? Somehow I find that hard to believe.


Anonymous said...

Utica and the region have been flowing downward in the bowl for quite some time. Is whatever they do with the arterial really a game changer one way or the other? Highly doubtful. The real question is whether or not $62 million ought to be spent is the first place? It may make much more sense to repave exisiting sections and call it a day.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with anonymous. With the present economic climate and financial mess that both the state and the city are in, it doesn't make sense to spend the money to undertake such a major project. It has served the city for many years in it's present configuration, and the population and traffic flow is diminishing, not increasing.

It is hard to believe that the council is willing to allow the state to destroy the entire traffic grid in the West end of the city to satisfy outsiders.

Of course this is the same common council that made devastating cuts to public safety positions but refuse to give up anything themselves when the proposal to decrease their numbers by a couple of unnecessary "at large" slots was presented.

The city taxpayers are paying those people a pretty decent salary, AND BENEFITS for a part time job, and while they are supposed to be representing the people in their districts, they actually represent nobody's interests but their own.

Dave said...

"Is DOT really incapable of designing a city street or streets that can accommodate the traffic of those who merely want to pass through? Somehow I find that hard to believe."

I don't. And you may have provided the answer with, "current highway standards require X,Y and Z." Hard to believe all that regulation, carved with a Federal knife, can result in anything useable by human beings.

E.g., doesn't matter if the pavement travels in the wrong direction, what's important is whether it can withstand a nuclear blast, is made from ecologically sound materials and was manufactured by a third world country that insists on worker rights such as one lunch hour per week.

Anonymous said...

As someone who doesn't live within the city but was forced to travel in that area the other day it is my belief that the whole area is screwed up.

I have yet to figure out where to do a legal left turn! Talk about "friendly roads" for visitors. If the city wants to attract people they have to make it easy to get around - and to park without feeling like your car is going to get broken into.

I don't really care what they end up doing because I don't live within the city but obviously the way it is isn't the best. And I am glad that the only time I end up going down that road is to go North/South and not into the city. Which I avoid anyways, but that is another topic/post.

Greens and Beans said...

NYSDOT is notorious for putting on the classic “dog and pony show” to convince the public that “their” design is the only viable solution to the needs of the region. The statement that “members of the public are not traffic engineers” is as insulting as it is typical DOT arrogance. This is why there is scarce attendance at their informational sessions. DOT engineers never seem to have any problem with insulting the very public that they are paid to serve. I have witnessed the very same self-proclaimed ultra-enlightened “Traffic Engineers” cower down and suck-up to so-called influential politicians who are definitely not “Traffic Engineers.”

The Utica Common Council is more concerned with spending public funds than they are with serving their constituency. They did not seem to have any problem throwing public safety under the bus to balance a flawed budget. Why would anyone think that they would be more concerned with routing potential commerce producing economic development to the more affluent suburbs?

Incompetence can be extremely damaging. These are lean times that call for our elected officials to become enlightened experts. Utica’s elected officials need to look to the future in terms of securing commerce that a public friendly parkway could provide. Yielding to DOT Engineers, just to secure public highway funds, will do more damage to a city that is in dire need to expand their tax base.

RPP said...

I'm not sure of the impact of a "parkway" but the thought that all decisions should be made with the tax base in mind is a terrific one. As I've stated in the past, allowing grant money to drive public decision making is no leadership at all. We have many examples of the "free"money not only failing to the contribution of economic expansion but of ultimately costing we the local taxpayer a lot of money; costs that are annual.

Anonymous said...

How did public safety get thrown under the bus? The taxpayer's of this city can no longer afford the perks, enhanced pension benefits & inflated salaries of desk jockies known as public safety officers, i.e. chiefs, asst. chiefs, etc., especially down on Oriskany Blvd. If management were so concerned about their "bretheren" instead of their own inflated salaries & bennies, the street cops would have kept their jobs. What did they give up? Nothing! The well is dry in part due to the police department's greed.

buzzer said...

Can't we just use the 62 million to help the young people move out? After years of ungodly high cost of living, ungodly LOW wages and salaries... young people have been unable to leave the area after the parents (The ones that they "came back" to in order to "take care of them" and etc) have died and been buried.

We just need one or two thousand per young adult... just for each person with a college degree under the age of 40... I mean I hate any kind of gov't sponsorship and excessive use of taxation and bloated spending... but I think this will be crucial to the health and happiness of the young people in the region.

Dave said...

I think you'll enjoy "Traffic Engineering - What - Why - How," at:
produced by the Arizona Department of Transportation.
In this excerpt they turn the flashlight on themselves and their attitude:
"One of the greatest obstacles a professional traffic engineer faces in applying sound principles of traffic engineering is the fact that "everyone is a traffic expert!" The unfortunate result of this attitude of expertise is the creation of traffic hazards when false theories of individuals or groups are put into effect. "
Strike, you must be holding a "false theory of an individual!" Hahaha!