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One Year Later: Efforts to Beautify Area Around Railroad Bridge Where Wall Collapsed

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Scott Willis
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WAER-FM 88.3

It’s been just over a year since two 40-foot concrete sidewalls tumbled off a railroad bridge onto South Clinton Street in Syracuse.  Thankfully, no one was hurt, but the news was startling to those who live, work, and drive near the railroad viaduct that winds its way through the city.  Officials later learned that an inspection two years prior found several structures of the bridge posed at least some hazard.  

Clean-up on Clinton Street took days, and Chief Operating Officer Corey Driscoll Dunham says the city ran up a tab of nearly $90,000 in DPW, Police, Fire, and Engineering hours and materials. All of it was reimbursed by New York Susquehanna and Western Railroad.  Driscoll Dunham says now, they’re looking forward...

"That entire stretch of that entry way to downtown is undergoing a major makeover in the next few years.  Why not take advantage of all that energy by looking to see what else could be possbile with that Clinton Street bridge.  Not only what the bridge itself could look like it but really the space underneath it.  How can we make more productive use of that space."

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Credit Scott Willis / WAER-FM 88.3
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WAER-FM 88.3
A mural adorns one part of the otherwise stark, gray wall of the viaduct.

Right now, several people tend to congregate under the bridge, most of them likely clients of the Rescue Mission nearby.  Also near the bridge is a parking lot that will be the future site of the Salt City Market, a $22 million, five-story mixed-use building that will feature a 24,000 square foot food market with food vendors and a grocery store on the main floor.  It’s seen as part of the larger Syracuse Surge to revitalize the struggling neighborhood just south of downtown.  Corey Driscoll Dunham says the Downtown Committee has wanted to do something with the stark concrete face of the railroad bridge, and has met with the railroad to explore options.  For now, she says, the West Onondaga Street bridge over Onondaga Creek will be a good start. 

"Once we're done with that project in November, it will have ornamental lighting, it'll be a lot more welcoming for pedestrians.  We'd love to do something similar with the Clinton Street bridge.  What that looks like is yet to be determined."

And, it’s not clear how quickly things might change.  The temporary jersey barriers that replaced the sections of wall that collapsed are still there. 

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Credit Scott Willis / WAER-FM 88.3
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WAER-FM 88.3
This closed parking lot bounded by Salina, Clinton, and Onondaga streets will be the site of the Salt City Market due to open sometime next year.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at srwillis@syr.edu.