Utica’s Downtown Traffic Experiment ‘In Limbo’
After chewing the fat on downtown Utica's Genesee Street road diet there is a lingering question regarding the immediate future of the streets traffic pattern. The redrawn lines intended to make downtown more pedestrian friendly, have almost entirely faded from the asphalt. What remains is the question of what happens next.
An ordinance to make the so-called Complete Streets design permanent - a reduction of four travel lanes to three with the addition of bike lanes on either side of the road - was narrowly rejected by the common council in a mid-Friday afternoon vote, 5-4. However, a subsequent vote to return the traffic pattern to its original design, was also defeated on Friday.
So what next?
Following the completion of a two (2) 90-day trial periods and a traffic study on the new layout - between Oriskany and Court Streets - it seems the controversial downtown experiment will exist until Mayor Robert Palmieri or the council takes decisive action.
On Monday's Keeler in the Morning show on WIBX 950 the crux of the disagreement was argued by Councilman Frank Meola and Council President and mayoral candidate Mike Galime.
After saying that because the two 90-trial periods had ended and no ordinance from the council to make it permanent, Galime argued the traffic design should return to four vehicle lanes, and none for bikes.
However, Meola contended Palmieri could further extended or add another trial period.
The absence of clarity on the issue could, however, create a possible public safety concern for drivers, walkers and bicyclists.
"Our engineers, our DOT and the survey people have made very clear to us that the signage and the stripping need to be done as soon as possible so the motorists have proper direction as the intersections" said councilman Frank Meola, who also said the determination on design lies with the common council.
"Now we have to wait until the council has an ordinance on what direction they would like to see the road's [design]" Meola said. "Right now it's all in limbo."
During the discussion, Galime said the uncertain impact on traffic when the new Wynn Hospital opens downtown is among the issues complicating the results of the trials and study.
Below is the entire segment and discussion between Galime and Meola on Monday's Keeler Show:
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