The West End, looking down State Street past Elmira Savings Bank’s new location.

Area residents are being asked to voice their opinions on proposed road design changes as the city grapples with the vaunted ‘Octopus’ traffic pattern on Inlet Island. 

An open event will be held 4-6 p.m. today, Wednesday, April 12, a City Hall, where the public can learn more about the two designs from city officials. The proposed changes are aimed at improving safety conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists along the corridor. 

The city government named three objectives for changes to the 1,080 foot section of road in 2014, while applying for Transportation Enhancement Program funding from the state: to enable pedestrians to safely cross West State Street, between the bridge and West Seneca Street, improve safety and comfort of pedestrians and bicyclists on West State Street, and “address geometric deficiencies to improve traffic flow and safety and facilitate traffic operations at the West State Street/West Seneca Street/Brindley Street intersection.” 

There are currently two different plans, or “alternatives” being discussed, for which the city is seeking the public’s opinion. Two other initially considered alternatives, bridge widening and inaction, have both been ruled out. Construction would be limited to the stretch of West State Street between Floral Avenue and Taughannock Boulevard.

Alternative 1 This plan would call for a 10 foot to 12 foot wide mixed-use path along West State Street’s south side, with a concrete barrier for protection that would lead to three travel lanes instead of the current four. A westbound bike lane would also be added, from West Seneca Street to Floral Avenue, with a mid-block crosswalk. A new traffic control signal would be installed at the intersection of Floral Avenue and Hector/West State Street.  Total project cost: $817,000.

Alternative 2 This option provides a 10 foot sidewalk along the south side of West State Street, and two 5 foot bike lanes on either side of the street. This would also include the elimination of one lane of traffic, though there is no concrete barrier. Similar to its aforementioned counterpart, Alternative 2 would bring a mid-block crosswalk and a new traffic control signal at the same locations. Total project cost: $714,000

Both alternatives would be slated for completion by April 2018. The Draft Design Report also mentions a future intention to make the current Brindley Street a bicycle and pedestrian use only space, relocating Brindley Street to intersect with West State Street across from Taughannock Boulevard, creating a four-way intersection. That project would occur at the same time as whichever alternative is chosen. 

That general area has faced scrutiny as Ithaca’s efforts to become more walk-friendly have intensified, previously undergoing construction in 1997 and 2013.  

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