The Onondaga Creekwalk is a 2.5 mile pedestrian and bike trial along Onondaga Creek that runs from Onondaga Lake to downtown Syracuse. A new phase of the Creekwalk will extend the trail another two miles from downtown Syracuse to the city's south side.
Phase II is not expected to begin construction until 2019, but it took an important step forward, recently. The city of Syracuse conducted an environmental review of the project to submit to New York state. Department of Public Works Commissioner Pete O'Connor said the review is required so a more detailed design of the expansion can begin.
"There's an environmental study to make sure you're not going to be affecting the water and the animals," O'Connor said. "There's wildlife there. Whenever you're doing these projects you have to make sure you're not endangering those species. It could be anything. There's a lot more wildlife in the city than you think."
O'Connor said he would also like to see cameras added to the Creekwalk to catch any vandalism. That was a request shared by members of the Syracuse Common Council at a recent meeting. Councilors had a lot of questions and concerns about the project including if there would be local hiring during the construction, the cost of maintenance and repairs as well as adding cameras and emergency buttons. Another concern was that construction on the project could cause a mice infestation for residents living nearby.
The total cost of the project is estimated at more than $11 million. Thirty-four properties in Syracuse could be impacted by construction. Funding is being provided by the federal government and the New York State Transportation Improvement Program. The Creekwalk will ultimately connect with a Loop the Lake trail encircling Onondaga Lake as well as the Erie Canalway running east to west across the state.
The project is not expected to have a significant adverse effect on the environment.