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.