Syracuse University's promenade project could increase traffic on vital campus streets
As the Syracuse University Board of Trustees moves forward with plans to renovate its campus, the university is asking the Syracuse Common Council to approve of changes to vital streets in the area. The changes are expected to bring an increase in traffic.
One part of the university’s Campus Framework master plan is called the University Place Promenade which turns a street designated for Centro buses and delivery trucks into a pedestrian-friendly walkway.
Waverly Avenue is already a busy thoroughfare on the university hill but it would be taking on the increased traffic caused by the closure of University Place to the tune of more than 130 additional bus trips per day.
Eric Persons of Syracuse University government relations says these are temporary improvements before more permanent reconstruction comes to Waverly in the coming years.
“In essence, it’s to better demarcate the bus stops, create a lot less confusion than exists there right now, where the bus stops are and where pedestrians need to go and enhance the safety overall,” Persons said. "The initial thought from the city's perspective was to address some of the concerns expressed about the changes with the bicycle configurations and the parking. We just thought it was better to rather than wait a year or two years, let's make those changes now because at the end of the day they are safety enhancements and that's a good thing."
Syracuse University will be responsible for moving the curb and installing the concrete bus pads on Waverly. Once that’s done it’s on the city and DPW to maintain them. The bicycle lane, which is now two-way will be reduced to one-way.
But more than 100 faculty members at the university signed a petition requesting the promenade plans be postponed. Tula Goenka, a professor at the Newhouse School which is located on Waverly, is one of those faculty members.
“That’s the street we use the most and we see how chaotic it is,” Goenka said.
She said they are asking the university to wait on the promenade project until after a veterans resource center is built, proposed to also be on Waverly Avenue.
“Then figure out the traffic patterns and then see if we need the promenade or not,” Goenka said. "My fear is we're going to spend all this money that the university doesn't have or we're told we don't have and then we're going to close down the street and then in a couple of years from now we're going to dig it up again, saying we made a mistake. Where is the money coming from?"
Goenka said those faculty members also feel the university has not given them enough input in the planning process. The Syracuse Common Council could vote on the road changes Monday.