Sen. Chuck Schumer announces $18M to improve gateway to downtown Utica

A windfall of federal money will transform the northern gateway to downtown Utica, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Monday.

An $18.2 million grant through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity program will be used to connect the Harbor Point area, downtown hospital and Adirondack Bank Center. The highly competitive grant was secured through Schumer’s direct advocacy, including a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

“Everything is popping up,” Schumer said. “It’s an exciting time for the city.”

The funding will be used to replace the bridges spanning the Mohawk River and Erie Canal.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters after a closed-door policy meeting, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) ORG XMIT: DCSA124

They will be widened to accommodate four travel lanes, a center left turn lane and 10-foot-wide multi-use paths. The paths will expand bicycle access, connecting to Wurz Avenue, where multi-use paths exist from previous state projects and allow better connections between the Empire State Trail and downtown Utica. There are currently 5-foot sidewalks in the area, which do not support bicycles.

The project will also include modern lighting and fencing as part of the gateway enhancements.

In addition to the aesthetic and alternative transportation improvements, the state Department of Transportation anticipates the project will reduce crashes by roughly 34%.

“This substantial funding means safer bridges, good-paying construction jobs, better bussing, bike lanes, access to outdoor recreation, and a seamless connection between North Genesee Street and downtown,” Schumer said in a statement.

Schumer, whose father grew up in Utica, said the project will improve the corridor from the New York State Thruway and attract more people to downtown.

He also helped secure $2 million for a pedestrian bridge connecting Harbor Point hotels with the Adirondack Bank Center and future Nexus Center, which was announced in March.

The bridges to be replaced also carry utilities, like sewer, water and telecommunications, over the river and canal. The state DOT said the project isn't slated to go out to bid until December 2024.

This article originally appeared on Observer-Dispatch: Downtown Utica gateway to get $18 million for improvements