We read last week how the State has awarded a $7.8 million project to re-do Route 5-S from Broad St. westward to the Aud, and that the project will reduce traffic lanes and pavement area. Sounds good, but the "devil is in the details" which could not be found at the DOT website. A map showing the proposed configuration would be nice . . . adding public hearings and the opportunity for public input into the design would be even nicer.
When 5S was "arterialized" in the 1960s it significantly contributed to the decline of Downtown Utica by taking scores of businesses, destroying an intuitive street grid, and creating a "no man's land" of traffic that had to be crossed to walk from the Busy Corner to Baggs Square. Reversing these ills will hopefully be objectives of this project. Here are some things I would like to see . . .
1) Creation of develop-able parcels of land with street frontage that can be turned back over to the City and marketed, hopefully to recapture some of the tax-base and economic activity previously destroyed.
2) Addition of full intersections at Cornelia and 1st Streets to partially restore the street grid and make it easier to drive from point to point Downtown.
3) Crosswalks at Franklin Sq. and Hotel St. to enable pedestrians to walk directly between those locations, perhaps creating some synergy between developments at those locations.
4) A crosswalk on the west side of John Street. (Currently if you are walking northward on the west side of John and want to cross 5S to the other side, you are forced to cross to the east side of John, then cross Jay, then 5S, then recross John to get back on the west side of John . . . a frustrating waste of time waiting for lights to change).
5) Putting the median between Oriskany Blvd. and Liberty St. to a productive use that enhances developments along both sides . . . a landscaped parking area, perhaps, that could serve the Gerbers Tavern - Hotel St. area.
6) A street configuration that encourages a 30 MPH limit along this stretch. There should be no need to rush through this 0.7 mile stretch - which should be considered a destination.
Perhaps you have some ideas of your own . . . Feel free to share them here.