The North-South Arterial project continues to be a point of controversy and debate. The Utica Common Council met last night to discuss the proposed plan with the community. The current arterial project plans to close off Sunset Avenue where it intersects with the arterial, and have a pedestrian bridge built over the arterial.
The common council passed a resolution 5-4 urging the Department of Transportation to find other options to keep Sunset Ave. open and not build the bridge. "We should learn from history that pedestrian bridges don't work here especially if they're not covered as this was proposed," says Councilman Frank Vescera, "and especially if it's not lit."
Vescera voted in favor of the resolution. He says the pedestrian bridge built in Rome years ago didn't work, so why would this? He also says the closing of Sunset Ave. would cut off access of those businesses and homes to the other side.
Councilman Joe Marino says he voted against this resolution, but not because he wants to close off this area. He says this split decision in the Common Council could jeopardize the funding for the project and future projects in the city.
"Enough is enough with being a thorn in the side of the Department of Transportation," says Marino. "The Department of Transportation has already given us their word, and not only given us their word but they've provided proof that they are researching keeping Sunset Ave. open," he says, "everyone's fighting for their slice of the pie and we need to just put our best foot forward and fight aggressively to gain our slice."
Vescera says while the DOT may have said that they'd look into it, the passing of the resolution formally ensures that they'll do so.