Utica Common Councilperson Katie Aiello said with a resolution passed by the common council, Utica is now participating in a 90-day trial of “Complete Streets,” concluding toward the end of January.
Aiello said the city has been looking at Complete Streets ideas for years, long before she was a councilperson.
“I wanted to make a resolution requesting the mayor to do his trials. Requesting a trial and being part of a trial are two different things. But being involved, knowing the economic impacts and how much it betters downtowns and cities all across the country, bigger and smaller than Utica. I wanted to try," Aiello said.
What You Need To Know
- A 90-day trial of 'Complete Streets' is taking place in Utica
- Parts of Genesee Street have been reduced from four to three lanes, and a bike lane has been added
- Some have questions about how that could affect the area, especially if there is an event at the Stanley Theatre
The trial means part of Genesee Street has changed from four lanes to three, and a bike lane is being added.
Aiello said the goal is for safer, and more pedestrian-friendly streets.
“A lot of people believe if you take a lane away, you're taking accessibility away. But it's actually completely the opposite,” Aiello said, “because with our roads, these roads are meant for with four lanes are meant to hold 15,000 or 20,000 cars a day. We are less than 10,000. So when you give cars more space than they need, our roads are overbuilt, the faster they go and the more reckless it can be.”
The Stanley Theatre hosts shows and events that bring in tour and school buses. Staff said unloading and loading the buses can tie up traffic, and things are only picking up.
“We've got some great children's programing coming up and the Broadway shows are back and we've got concerts coming up. So we are really getting back into pre-COVID events,” said Stanley Theatre Director of Booking and Events Linda Iannone.
The Complete Streets trial hasn’t made its way to the Stanley yet, but there are plans for it to. Theatre staff, though, have concerns.
“In some places, I think it's great. Right in front of the theater, it's a little congested," Iannone said. "I think for people getting in and out of cars with a bike lane going in front of the theater, I think that would kind of back things up for us. I worry about buses and cars opening doors, hitting a bicycle.”
“I can't emphasize enough that this is a trial. But even if it was permanent, it's paint on a road and it's reversible," Aiello said.
Stanley Theatre staff said they’d like to see the bike lane re-routed around the back of the theatre. Aiello said that’s something that can be considered.
Even with the new downtown hospital getting ready to open soon and more traffic anticipated, Aiello said studies still show Genesee Street would still be overbuilt with four lanes.