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Celebrating Transportation Awareness and Project Completion

April 19, 2021

Every day, millions of residents – nurses, teachers, first responders, and families – drive in cars or buses to get to their destinations. In New York alone there are more than 11 million registered vehicles, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. This is why it’s important to be on the lookout for highway work zones and use extra caution when driving near them, as construction season is beginning and we recognize National Work Zone Awareness Week (4/26-4/30). #NWZAW #Orange4Safety

Automobiles and buses are just a few modes of transportation, and good weather brings more pedestrians outside for recreation. In New York, there is a newly completed 750-mile trail system that welcomes bicyclists and hikers to explore the State’s extraordinary experiences, people, and places. Development of the Empire State Trail was launched in 2017 by Governor Cuomo to, “promote outdoor recreation, encourage healthy lifestyles, support community vitality, and bolster tourism-related economic development.” The Trail accommodates bicyclists and walkers of all ages and abilities, allowing them to experience the Empire State’s urban centers, village main streets, rural communities, and diverse history, from New York City through the Hudson River Valley, west to Buffalo along the Erie Canal, and north to the Champlain Valley and Adirondacks. The final connection of this trail was concluded at the end of 2020 with the completion of Segment 3 of the Onondaga County Canalways Trail Extension Project. Barton & Loguidice was pleased to be leading the team for this project, which is located along the southern shore of Onondaga Lake in Syracuse, NY, and provides 2,850 feet of new trail construction that traverses several active freight lines (CSXT & NYSW) and a series of environmentally sensitive lands.

Segment 3 was tasked with bringing the trail from the Harbor Brook outlet to Hiawatha Boulevard, a highway which serves as a principal arterial linking Interstates 690 and 81. In order to achieve this task, the trail alignment first needed to progress through an active lake clean-up site managed by Honeywell, then cross over 3 active freight lines, and finally continue through a former scrap yard now being rehabilitated as a NYSDEC Brownfield site. All of this needed to be achieved in just one construction season to hit a goal to have the Empire State Trail fully operational by December 31, 2020. Construction scheduling was further complicated during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The design team developed and implemented new and innovative techniques to solve each of the unique challenges presented by the project site.

Crossing the train tracks required designers to be innovative. The sheer length and size of the bridge as well as the restrictions for security of the rail lines, are all elements the team approached as an opportunity to produce a more unique design. The galvanized pedestrian railings provide a distinct contrast to the weathered steel bridge structures. The mesh of the ornamental rail protects debris from compromising train operations while maintaining its aesthetic appeal. The approach span truss and main span arches were hand-crafted to be functional but also to bring a sense of style to the project. The design team went above and beyond to provide a viewing deck/landing area at the highest point of the bridge. The landing area constructed beside the bridge offers particularly breathtaking views of Onondaga Lake, the City of Syracuse, and even the Bald Eagle roosting grounds off of Hiawatha Boulevard. Different pigments of black and grey were introduced into the bridge deck concrete to distinguish walking paths and trail head. The lighting design along the trail was developed to minimize ecological impacts while the asphalt trail on either side of the pedestrian bridge is illuminated with solar fixtures. The Brownfield site on the OCIDA property contained both hazardous and non-hazardous waste products; meticulous care was taken during construction to handle, sample, test and dispose of these waste products. Post-construction, the site has advanced rapidly in the right direction and is now rejuvenated with greenspace that is safe for the public while supporting natural wildlife.

Delays in coordinating submittals review, railroad coordination, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic compounded over the length of the project, putting the contractor behind schedule. Through substantial efforts on the part of the State, County, contractor, and construction staff, the schedule delays were able to be overcome. The project was delivered on-time and on-budget, meeting all M/W/DBE federal aid goals.

One of the project’s greatest achievements is the long-lasting impact this will have on the community. This area of Onondaga Lake and the Syracuse Inner Harbor have long been used as industrial lands, making it difficult for the community to harness the natural benefits afforded by the lake. Most immediately, this project connects the Onondaga Lake Parkway, Village of Liverpool, West Shore Trail, and its surrounding communities to the City of Syracuse’s Inner Harbor. The trail will allow users to access the City’s lakefront areas and the downtown central business district. The enhanced mobility this project provides will help foster social and economic growth in Central New York, and signifies that an investment is being made in this area which sparks positivity in the community. Now more than ever, there is a need for recreational activities which can be enjoyed safely. The robust width and length of the Canalways Trail will allow users to get out of their homes and enjoy the natural beauty of their community. This project brings much needed aesthetic improvements to both the City of Syracuse and the lake shore. The trail, and future continuations of the Loop the Lake Trail, provide for recreational activities for users of all ages while providing a vital link within the Syracuse community.


This article is from members of the Transportation Practice Area.

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