Connective Corridor construction to begin again

Construction on the Connective Corridor will restart tomorrow and will continue through downtown for the next two years.

The Connective Corridor, a cultural development project connecting University Hill with downtown Syracuse, will restart construction Nov. 4 that will continue through downtown for the next two years.

Construction for phases two and three of the project, a $42.5 million dollar partnership between Syracuse University and the City of Syracuse, is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2015, said Linda Hartsock, director of the Connective Corridor project for Syracuse University’s Office of Community Engagement and Economic Development.

Construction for phases two and three will begin on Forman Avenue and continue west downtown under US-81 on East Genesee Street to Townsend Street. From Townsend, construction will head north one block to East Fayette Street, where it will continue across the street, crossing Salina Street along West Fayette Street and ending at West Street, said Owen Kerney, director of the city planning division of the Syracuse Onondaga Planning Agency.

“The work will be in a new location but will largely mimic what is already done (during phase one), really a continuation of work already started,” Kerney said.

During Phase One, sidewalks, curbs, trees, benches, amenities, drainage, signage, lighting and parking lanes were removed, replaced and rebuilt, Kerney said. Phase One, which involved University Avenue, East Genesee Street and Forman Park, completed at the end of 2012.

During phase one construction, phases two and three’s final design was being developed, said Mark Budosh, senior project engineer at Barton & Loguidice, P.C., and one of the lead project engineers for the project. “We really took the same design criteria and design standards for phase one and carried it over to phases two and three,” Budosh said.

One difference from phase one will be shared-use bicycle lanes from Salina Street to West Street, where bicyclists may use the full lane on the road, because the curb to curb width doesn’t allow room to fit full width bike lanes on both sides of the road, Budosh said.

Originally, phases two and three were designed as their own projects until 2011, when the City of Syracuse received a $10 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Kerney said. “Rather then ask for funding for just one or the other, or one and not having funding for the other, we combined them as one final project that would entail the remainder of the Connective Corridor,” Kerney said.

During construction, traffic patterns and parking will be affected. “As we progress, there will be single-lane closures. We’re hoping to maintain two-way traffic, at least one lane of traffic in both directions throughout construction,” Budosh said. “There will be times when a block or two will have to be closed due to specific construction activities regarding drainage installation.”

The project will employ phase construction, where construction is done on one side of the road for about a block or two, and then construction comes back to be done on the other side of the road. On the side construction is being done, parking will be eliminated for the duration of that phase of construction. All business entrances driveways, parking lots entrances, pedestrian access and crosswalks will be maintained, like what’s currently being done on Westcott Street.

As he did during phase one, Kerney will consult with anyone affected by construction while work is being done. “My job is to provide some rationale as to what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, how long it will take, but also being available if there are concerns or question or things we have to improve.”

Chris Kunhs, executive chef and owner of Phoebe’s Restaurant & Coffee Lounge at 900 E. Genesee St., had construction done outside his business during phase one and said he received various levels of communication from those involved with the project, including Kerney. However, he said construction done outside Phoebe’s during July and August last year had a negative impact on his business.

“We lost sales, and that was definitely told to us. You know, there was a potential that people would stay clear of the area, and they did,” Kunhs said. The restaurant’s à la carte lunch sales were cut in half compared to the previous year during those months.

Still, Kunhs supports the project and understands its importance to the city. “If people don’t like the visual of a cityscape, they won’t stay in the cityscape.”

Hartsock agreed: “We’re creating an economy that is attractive for businesses to continue to invest here and grow here, but at the same time, creating a place and a sense of place that will be attractive for young people to come and make lives and careers. And that’s really kind of the goal of the Connective Corridor—to do both.”

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