The design and planning stages have come and gone for Utica’s $62 million arterial project, and now demolition and construction crews are preparing to get their hands dirty. The first stages of the project will be visible by January and many residents tell our Cara Thomas they are not looking forward to the changes ahead.
UTICA, N.Y. -- After years of planning and designing, the arterial project is finally coming to fruition. Many residents say they're excited for construction to begin, while others are dreading what's to come.
One Utica resident, Dick Motto, said, "I think it's going to open things up quite a bit. It's going to make the arterial much more safer than it is I think."
"I wish for a more environmentally friendly boulevard-style road," said Robert Clemente, an opposing Utica resident.
But the Department of Transportation says it's too late to go back now. West Utica residents began seeing changes in their community more than a month ago when properties, homes, and businesses along the arterial were purchased by the state. More than half of those residents have relocated and the rest will move by the end of December.
Jim Biccola from the NYS Department of Transportation said, "No one is going homeless. Everyone is being taken care of. Our real estate group is doing a phenomenal job working with all the residents and getting them nice places to live."
In January, the real heavy work begins. Demolition crews will clear out more than 50 buildings along the highway to make room for its expansion.
By March of 2013, Contract 1 will begin. This includes construction at numerous intersections, small projects near Varick Street and Oriskany Boulevard, as well as the creation of the controversial pedestrian bridge.
Contract 2 will begin in 2014 where the entire viaduct will be replaced.
"I think it's over 50 years old and it's starting to deteriorate and that's why it's being replaced," says Biccola.
Over the next few years, the Department of Transportation says it's inevitable that traffic will be affected. But they say they’re doing everything they can to keep the arterial open throughout the process, and residents say they’ll just have to grin and bear it.
"It's a big construction project over many years so it's going to impact all of us. So kind of look at it, see where traffic is going and avoid the construction," says Clemente.
Construction is expected to be completely finished by 2016.