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Elevating Erie survey results announced

Payne Horning
Syracuse Planner Owen Kerney and DeWitt planner Sam Gordon discuss the results of a survey they launched last year to develop ideas on how best to improve Erie Boulevard East.

The group working to revamp a 4-mile stretch of Erie Boulevard East in Onondaga County is sharing the results of a survey it launched last year. More than 1,200 surveys were completed about how to best improve the highly trafficked corridor between Syracuse and Dewitt. 

"It’s more than any that I’ve ever received on a project," said Syracuse planner Owen Kerney. "Typically if you have a couple hundred people interested and responding you’re doing pretty good, so 12-1,300 demonstrates a phenomenal amount of interest."

Adding a green median to Erie Boulevard east that could provide safe space for cyclists and pedestrians was the top priority for those who completed the survey. Town of Dewitt planner Sam Gordon says people would prefer to reduce the amount of space that vehicular traffic currently occupies.

"If you try and bike or walk down there, it’s not a safe place," Gordon said. "It was never intended to be that kind of corridor, so this would be a departure from what it is currently and really thinking about the future of this historical corridor in our community."

The results also showed a strong desire to connect visitors with the Erie Canal history. That could include adding a trail with signage along the boulevard and increasing access to the remnants of the canal like the Widewaters Park in Dewitt, which Gordon says is already underway.

"This is an opportunity for us to really celebrate that history as we embark upon the celebration of the bicentennial of the canal."

The "Elevating Erie" project is a collaboration between Syracuse, Dewitt, Onondaga County and the state.

Gordon says the project just got a major boost this year when state lawmakers approved $200 million to complete the Erie Canalway Trail as part of a 750-mile Empire State historic and recreational trail project. 

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.