The Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council (SMTC) is continuing to work on a study of the Route 31 corridor between Clay and Cicero in an attempt to address long-term traffic issues. The second of three public meetings to discuss the study was held Tuesday night at Cicero Elementary School; about 100 people, including town and county officials, attended.
At the meeting, SMTC officials sought public opinion on several options they had come up with to develop land use and transportation plans along the corridor. Those options were based on goals set by residents at the first public meeting, held in November of 2007.
“At the first meeting, we asked people to set goals and prioritize them,” said Meghan Vitale of the SMTC. “We then took that list of goals and evaluated them, developing several alternatives to the current land and traffic use patterns.”
The goals were also developed with the aid of an advisory council, which includes the New York State and Onondaga County departments of transportation, Onondaga County Office of Economic Development, Syracuse-Onondaga County Planning Agency, CENTRO, North Syracuse Central School District, Cicero zoning, planning and town boards and Clay planning department, planning board and town board, as well as the Cicero Comprehensive Plan and the Clay Northern Land Use Study.
The study only addresses the long-term (10 to 20 years from now); existing issues and problems as well as short-term solutions are not within the study’s range.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the SMTC presented six potential scenarios:
-“Future base,” or what would happen if no changes were made; this included planned developments at the Clay Industrial Park, commercial development along Route 11 in Cicero, mixed-use hamlets in both towns and residential development north of Route 31 in Clay. These factors were included in all of the alternatives, as well. According to the traffic model, this option, Vitale said, does not meet the study goals and would cause significant traffic increases in all roads studied.
-A new I-81 interchange north of Route 31. Vitale said this option would attract some traffic away from the existing interchange in Cicero; however, travelers who now get off I-81 at Circle Drive would move to that exit, so there would be no reduction in traffic.
-A new I-81 interchange south of Route 31. This option decreases traffic around the Mattydale and Circle Drive areas, but has a negligible impact on Route 31.
-New road connections around the Clay commercial district, including Great Northern Mall and the surrounding area. This option would include the construction of side connective roads as well as upgrading VerPlank Road to bring it up to current design standards. This option decreases traffic around the COR Center and allows travelers to and from Brewerton and points north to access the Clay commercial area.
-New road connections around the Clay Industrial Park. This option would mostly benefit the industrial park itself, as it would construct connective side roads in the industrial area. It would also decrease traffic around the Clay/Cicero border and on Route 11 north of Route 31.
-Alternative land use. This option calls for no additional transportation infrastructure, but a different pattern of land use, with development being clustered in certain areas. It causes the greatest overall traffic decrease and satisfies most of the study’s goals.
At Tuesday’s meeting, attendees were asked to look at each option and vote as to whether they thought it was viable or not. They were also asked to comment on each option and to make other suggestions.
“Based on what they say, we’ll go back and do more evaluations,” Vitale said. “Then we’ll present a preliminary recommendation at our next public meeting, which should happen this summer.”
For more information, visit smtcmpo.org.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.