Priorities for "Elevating Erie" Include Shift Toward Bike Lanes, Pedestrian Access

Jul 11, 2017

A rendering of the median greenway option.
Credit Chris Bolt / WAER News

The results are in from last summer’s public survey about transforming Erie Boulevard from Syracuse through DeWitt into a more appealing multi-use corridor.   Town of DeWitt Director of Planning Sam Gordon says one priority rose to the top.

"Participants clearly indicated a preference for improving pedestrian and bicycle amenities along the boulevard, as well as increasing connectivity and safety along the corridor through protected bike lanes, reducing the amount of pavement allocated to vehicle traffic, as well as creating refuge areas for pedestrians."

Gordon says a median greenway option might fit the bill.

"A trail in the center median with landscaping, maybe benches, lighting, and signage that directs people to the different things to do along the corridor."

Sam Gordon is Director of Planning and Zoning in the Town of DeWitt.
Credit Chris Bolt / WAER News

He says the asphalt median in DeWitt would be removed and replaced with a more natural surface.  Respondents also said economic development is a top priority, and would like to see new mixed use housing, retail, and office space.  Officials say it’s only fitting to be talking about re-inventing the former path of the Erie Canal on the year of its bi-centennial.  Gordon says many were drawn to the idea of including the canal’s heritage…

"We have identified along the canal corridor, linking not only DeWitt to Syracuse,  but there are opportunities in the Inner Harbor and the western suburbs where we can reconnect to remnants of the historic canal."

Gordon says plans are also likely to include the monument near Teall avenue, and Widewaters pond in DeWitt just off the boulevard and Towpath Road.  In all, 64 proposals came in for the Elevating Erie competition, 3,500 visited the website, and more than 1,200 completed the survey.   Assistant director of the Syracuse/Onondaga County Planning Agency Owen Kerney says that’s a remarkable response for a community of this size.

Owen Kerney with the City/County Planning Agency makes remarks outside the Erie Canal Museum. At right is DeWitt Planning Director Sam Gordon and Museum Director Natalie Stetson. They're standing in front of a rendering of some of the public's priorities for Erie Boulevard.
Credit Chris Bolt / WAER News

"Typically if you have a couple hundred responses, you're doing pretty good.  So, 1,200 to 1,300 demonstrates a phenomenal amount of interest, a phenomenal amount of feedback.  The things that we're working on and elements we're talking about have really come out of that."

Governor Cuomo has committed $200 million toward the completion of the Erie Canalway Trail, the Hudson River Greenway, and the Champlain Trail to create a 700 mile continuous trail system that could be the the longest of its kind on the continent or even the globe.  Sam Gordon says that’s the push the project needed.

"The Erie Canalway Trail alone is something we've been talking about completing for several decades.  Having the money in place to make that commitment and say we're going to get it done...that's what it takes."

Some remarks and a rendering of another idea to revitalize Erie Boulevard.
Credit Chris Bolt / WAER News