On Valentine’s Day morning, the receiving area of the Syracuse University Bookstore in the lower level of the Schine Student Center was bustling. Fruit baskets lined one shelf. Other shelves held large bags called the Valentine’s Snack Attack—filled with cookies,…
Phase Two of Connective Corridor Completed
Ceremonial pavers marking the completion of phase two of the Connective Corridor project will be placed at the midpoint of the route linking University Hill and Downtown Syracuse at a celebration on Wednesday, Oct. 14.
The festive event will include an outdoor street ceremony at 10 a.m. on the 400 block of East Fayette Street in front of Firefighter’s Park. A reception immediately following the ceremony will be hosted by the Central New York Community Foundation in its second floor ballroom and the CNY Philanthropy Center at 431 E. Fayette St., which is also the rain location for the ceremony.
Following brief remarks, ceremonial pavers engraved with the seals of Syracuse University, the U.S. Department of Transportation, New York State, Onondaga County and the City of Syracuse will be placed at the entry to Firefighter’s Park, which represents the mid-point of the green streetscape route. The act is reminiscent of the golden spike driven by Leland Stanford to join the rails of the First Transcontinental Railroad, signifying the ceremonial connection of two routes, undertaken from separate origins, coming together in a common meeting point. Additionally, the Connective Corridor project will be recognized with the prestigious 2015 U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration Environmental Excellence Award for Collaboration and Partnership.
The Connective Corridor is a major urban development project managed by the University’s Office of Community Engagement and Economic Development (CEED), in partnership with the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County. It began in 2005 when the University joined with the City of Syracuse and National Grid to pursue a vision of an activated streetscape that would celebrate art and connect students to the community along a new Connective Corridor linking University Hill with Downtown Syracuse—areas that had been bifurcated for 40 years, since Interstate 81 was built through the center of these two dynamic districts of the City of Syracuse. Read the timeline here.
The Connective Corridor project encompasses two main areas of focus: a connector and a civic strip. See the map here.
The connector features a pedestrian and bicycle route between University Hill and downtown Syracuse, with dedicated bike lanes, enhanced pedestrian walkways and improved public spaces, façade improvements, streetscape amenities and convenient public transportation. The civic strip, with its concentration of civic institutions, museums and arts and cultural organizations, includes enhancements such as lighting, wayfinding signs, public art and other amenities to provide a welcoming, walkable experience for those living, working and visiting downtown Syracuse.
Phase one construction of the connector included the street reconstruction of University Avenue and East Genesee Street to Forman Avenue, the redevelopment of Forman Park, the new Syracuse Stage Plaza with its “singing sidewalk” and interactive LED lights, the Warehouse Hub and the Armory Square gateway park. Those projects were completed in 2013. Phase two work for the section of the Connector from Forman Avenue to West Street and the Near Westside was completed in fall 2015.
Phase three, still to come, includes projects along the Civic Strip that will enliven the Syracuse experience with additional streetscape enhancements, innovative and attractive lighting, wayfinding signs, public art and public space amenities to provide a welcoming, walkable experience for those live, work, study and visit Downtown Syracuse.
The Connective Corridor project includes:
Approximately two miles of new complete “green streets” with bike and pedestrian paths linking University Hill and downtown business and residential districts along a revitalized urban corridor; green infrastructure that captures and manages 26 million gallons of water annually across the Corridor through a variety of advanced technologies; Redesigned public parks and spaces, along with extensive urban tree plantings along the streetscape; a free public bus system connecting campus and community venues, with ridership numbers that have grown from 6,000 to 187,354 ride counts annually; a better-connected arts, cultural and heritage district, with more than 30 cultural/community venues working together to program and co-promote the district; a public art corridor that features visual art and installations, interactive spaces and outdoor video, along with one of the largest calls for public art underway in the country; the Urban Video Project, works by Syracuse’s first Public Artist in Residence and the 40Below Public Arts Taskforce, and the iconic “Love Letters to Syracuse” painted railroad bridges; new downtown signage, civic strip wayfinding, and interactive maps and information systems designed to enhance the Syracuse experience for students, employees, residents and visitors; more than 70 façade improvements to augment the new complete streetscape—many of which are historic preservation projects; a “Corridor of Light” initiative to illuminate 23 buildings and public spaces through creative, energy efficient lighting that highlights the city’s iconic architecture and enhances the pedestrian experience; new outdoor bistro seating areas and sidewalk cafes as part of the façade program; innovative technology testbeds like the Syracuse Stage Plaza with motion-activated sound pavers and LED panels with infrared sensing technology designed by a local startup company, SenSyr, in association with Syracuse University faculty; Tourism Assistance Portals installed at arts and cultural organizations along the Corridor—a collaboration with Visit Syracuse; and a new “Kinections Kiosk” interactive information system to be launched in partnership with WCNY.
The Connective Corridor project fosters faculty and student engagement. More than 1,320 students and 76 faculty from across many disciplines have been engaged with the Connective Corridor since the start of the project. Read more about curricular-related research, design and demonstration projects here.
As community revitalization project, the Connective Corridor helped enliven Downtown Syracuse. It also created a supply chain and employment impact across the region. More than 51,000 work hours were performed by regional construction workers. Design and engineering work was done by Barton & Loguidice PC and construction inspection services were performed by C&S Engineering, both of Syracuse.
The prime contractor for streetscape construction was Barrett Paving Materials Inc., of Liverpool. The lead design and engineering firm for the project’s green infrastructure was CH2M Hill, with an office in Syracuse. There were 19 regional sub-contractors on the streetscape project, and 12 regional suppliers of materials and services.
The Connective Corridor project won a number of design, engineering, transportation planning and public works awards. Among them are:
U.S. Department of Transportation—Federal Highway Administration 2015 Environmental Excellence Award;
American Council of Engineering Companies 2013 Platinum Award;
American Public Works Association (APWA) New York Chapter, 2013 Transportation Project of the Year Award;
Transportation Project of the Year Award, 2012, The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Upstate;
U.S. Green Building Council’s 2012 Global Community Leadership Award; and
Transportation Project of the Year Award, 2012, The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Upstate.
“From its inception, the Connective Corridor offered a vision for all revitalization initiatives to follow: connecting neighborhoods to foster an economic and cultural revival throughout the city of Syracuse. And that was the exact message I brought to Washington to help secure millions in funding to push this effort across the finish line,” says Senator Charles E. Schumer. “Linking University Hill and Downtown Syracuse has already enhanced the flow of people and ideas between the two areas and I have no doubt that will continue. I am proud to have been a partner since the beginning.”
“Connecting Syracuse University with downtown and cleaning Onondaga Lake are two things that have been discussed for years,” says Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney. “The Connective Corridor gives Syracuse University students a direct route to the heart of the city and partnering with Onondaga County’s Save the Rain program to incorporate green infrastructure in the project helps us clean the lake. It’s a great example of major stakeholders coming together to make a community better and we appreciate the recognition of this effort.”
“The Connective Corridor has been an asset to the City of Syracuse and has linked Downtown and the University in new ways, and we are proud of this collaborative achievement,” says Syracuse Mayor Stephanie A. Miner. “This project has helped make us a more vibrant and livable city. I am pleased the federal government has decided to recognize this project for its excellence and I look forward to its continued success.”
“More than 1,320 students and 76 faculty from across disciplines have been involved in the Connective Corridor,” says Syracuse University Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost Elizabeth D. Liddy. “Research, design and demonstration projects like these give them a better Syracuse experience, connect them with community mentors, and make the city a more dynamic and vibrant place. The Corridor has been a living lab where students gain real-world experience, produce portfolio work, and make connections that foster more engaged alumni who are more likely to become community and global leaders.”