Cascadilla Creekway

Overview

The Cascadilla Creekway Project proposes to rehabilitate and enhance the 100 block of Cascadilla Avenue, which is an important bicycle and pedestrian way along Cascadilla Creek. The project scope includes:

  • Replacement of railings along the creek
  • Preservation of creek wall
  • Replacement of Sears St. pedestrian bridge
  • Making pedestrian enhancements and upgrading six (6) curb ramps at the Cascadilla Ave./N. Cayuga St. intersection to meet current ADA guidelines
  • Enhancement of Cascadilla Ave. as part of the bicycle boulevard system

Plans for the project can be found here.

Impact

Cascadilla Avenue and Sears Street will be open to local traffic only during construction. Construction will be completed in stages with local traffic maintained on Sears Street at all times and either the north side or south side of Cascadilla Avenue based on construction staging. Through traffic on Sears Street and the South side of Cascadilla Avenue will be detoured to city streets.

A space for local pedestrian traffic will be maintained along the work area with temporary protection such as fencing or barrier provided until the new railing is in place.

History

March 2016

With $250,000 of additional outside funding from Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton’s office, the Board of Public Works recommends design alternative #2 listed below, with a tall curb on top of which a Federal Highway Administration-approved railing, modified to fit the current aesthetic, is placed.

A result of the high cost of proceeding with this proposal, the city may need to eliminate the pedestrian bridge replacement, bike boulevard implementation along Cascadilla Avenue, and intersection enhancements at Cayuga Street.

January 2016

The city has been approved for $600,000 of federal funding to help pay for these repairs. To accept these funds, the city must use a railing that complies with Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) crash-worthiness standards (since there is vehicular traffic along Cascadilla Avenue). Many residents found the initial FHWA-compliant design to be over-engineered, obstructive of views of the creek, and just plain ugly. This plan would have cost $750,000, of which the city would be responsible for $150,000.

In response to public comment, Public Works has made 4 alternate proposals. Details are in the this memo, but a summary of the options follows:

  1. One of two lower, more attractive, but more expensive FHWA-approved railing options. See the proposal for sample photos. ($1.2 million; city’s share is $600,000)
  2. Modify a FHWA-approved railing to better conform to existing aesthetics (over $1.2 million; city’s share would be remainder after $600,000 federal funds)
  3. Design a railing from scratch and pay for testing ($100,000 to design and up to a year for FHWA approval). And then of course installing the railing and implementing repairs (presumably $750,000 to $1.2 million)
  4. Forfeit federal money, relieving the city of FHWA standards, and pursue other sources of funding (estimated total project cost: $720,000-840,000 with [we’re told] promising options for grants [no details yet])

Given the significantly higher cost estimates of the first 3 new proposals compared to the original, some are advocating not to spend any money repairing Cascadilla Creekway unless other funding sources can be found (either to supplement or completely replace federal funding). Proponents of this approach point out that the city has more pressing infrastructure needs in the city.

Public feedback on these proposals should be submitted to agebre@cityofithaca.org by January 31.

CCW-Comb.-Memos-Jan-12
Work Completed
November 1, 2017
Work Begins
July 24, 2017
Alternative Designs Proposed
January 12, 2016

Alternative proposals circulated. Comments due January 31 to agebre@cityofithaca.org

Preliminary Proposal
September 15, 2015

Initial design