Utica and the Department of Transportation are in the final stages of planning the $62 million North-South Arterial project. The plan is to repair the highway's viaduct, widen the road, and create a pedestrian bridge. And to help them decide on the finishing touches, the D.O.T has pulled together a stake holders committee. A group that our Cara Thomas said many concerned citizens knew nothing about.
UTICA, N.Y. -- After years of planning, the Department of Transportation is in the final stages of designing the North-South Arterial Project. And to help make the last decisions, they've created a new stakeholders committee.
Jack Williams, the Department of Transportation's Regional Director said, "What we've done is we've tried to get a cross section of expertise that will help us develop the information that we need for the project."
It's a committee of 17 people who represent numerous organizations throughout the city, including the police and fire departments, Holy Trinity Church, the Chamber of Commerce and even the historical society. Their responsibility is to give feedback, specifically about the aesthetics. And, later in the process the committee will also help the DOT decide other things, such as potential traffic patterns during the construction process.
"This is a positive thing and we wanted the community to have the ability to have some ownership," explained Williams.
But, not everyone feels that way, including some local residents and officials who said they didn't even know about the stakeholders committee and that they would have liked to be involved.
Oneida County Legislator, Harmony Speciale, said, "As far as I'm concerned, the stakeholders have already been to all of the meetings. They're already here, they exist in the houses and the businesses that lie along the North-South Route 12 Arterial."
Tim Trent, a West Utica citizen said, "If it comes to stakeholders, we're the real stakeholders of West Utica, we know that damage this road is going to do and the negative impact it's going to have on people and we could work with the DOT to minimize those negative impacts."
DOT officials said they'd consider bringing in anyone who'd like to be a part of the committee, but in an effort to keep the group on the smaller side, they will have to turn some interested participants down.
Officials said the committee has met twice so far, and will probably not meet again for another few months or until their input is needed. DOT officials said the meetings are not open to the public.