Another step nearing completion in Utica’s multi-million dollar Arterial Reconstruction Project. One part of it: a pedestrian bridge costing more than a million bucks. But some say it's unneeded. Unnecessary. Even a bureaucratic boondoggle a lot like that infamous "bridge to no-where” built in Alaska a few years ago.
First there was an implosion. And now construction begins. Construction of a pedestrian foot bridge has begun between Sunset Avenue and Warren Street. When the project is complete, both Sunset and Warren will be closed to make way for the new bridge. But will the foot traffic be worth closing two streets? Some say no.
"If that money was used to keep Sunset Ave. open over, under, or even at an intersection through the arterial it would serve the interest of West Utica much better," says Tim Trent, of Utica.
According to a survey conducted by the New York State DOT, 140 people crossed over the Arterial at Warren Street and 136 at Sunset Avenue. At both locations only 20 to 25 percent of people used the call button and 80 percent just crossed during a break in traffic.
"The pedestrian foot bridge is needed because of the pedestrian traffic. I think once the pedestrian street is up that we'll see a lot of people using that," says Jim Piccola, NYS DOT.
And some that use the cross walk that exists now say they will use the bridge when it is complete.
"People are going to use it and it's going to be another way of transportation especially when some cars don't even want to stop sometimes it looks like," says Matthew Ingraham, of Utica.
But not everyone is convinced.
"I don't believe it's going to see much use. Teenagers, young people are not going to use--in my opinion--are not going to use this bridge the way it's constructed. I think they will continue to find shortcuts across the arterial," says Trent.
Once the bridge is built, the city will take over. That means the city will be responsible for any maintenance or snow removal that the foot bridge requires.