Official opening adds to available outdoor activity options in time for the holiday weekend
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh and community partners who have contributed to the project announced the opening of the Creekwalk Phase II trail after a six-year process. The paved trail, a 2.2 mile extension of the Phase I Creekwalk path, begins at Armory Square and continues through the South Side of the city, ending at Rockland and Hunt Avenues behind Kirk Park. Features throughout the trail include rest areas, a marked pathway, newly planted trees, fencing, accessibility lots, continuous lighting and mileage markers along Onondaga Creek.
“Our community celebrated the opening of a beautiful new recreational and transportation amenity that will serve residents of the City of Syracuse and beyond,” said Mayor Walsh. “The extension of the Creekwalk is the product of years of planning and collaboration among many partners in our community. It is my hope that this project serves as a catalyst for additional investment in our neighborhoods, especially in the South Side, as we look to extend the trail south through the rest of the city.”
From 2014-2016, public meetings were held to collect input from community members on the South Side and in downtown Syracuse to help guide the trail route, amenities and safety features. The New York State Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved the final design for the $11.4 million (FHWA – $9.2 million; City – $2.3 million). Engineering design was finalized by C&S Companies in 2018. Construction began in February 2019 and was completed in July 2020.
The 13-foot wide pathway allows users to safely pass certain intersections such as the South Avenue underpass near Traveler’s Rest and Lower Onondaga Park. Stop signs, sidewalks, bike lanes, and pedestrian signals facilitate travel across city streets.
Much of the new portion of the trail is outlined by green space created with the help of the Department of Public Works and Department of Parks, Recreation & Youth Programs. In addition to the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise goal of 6% being met by the contractor, Barrett Paving Materials Inc., the minority and female participation workforce goals were exceeded by twice as much as the state standards. Work opportunities were also provided to Onondaga Earth Corps’, a youth empowerment organization, whose employees planted greenery along the project trail.
“Onondaga Earth Corps has had 14 young adult employees participate in training and planting of 75 trees and 70 shrubs along the Phase II expansion of the Creekwalk,” stated Gregory Michael, executive director. “Crew members were trained on how to operate landscape equipment to plant large caliper balled and burlap trees, and installed trees and shrubs to professional standards. We are proud that young people from the community are a part of creating this beautiful neighborhood asset.”
Final touches to be installed consist of the emergency call boxes, security cameras, trail maps, and interpretive signs. A plan to install a charging station for wheelchairs in Armory Square near the MoST Museum is also in the works. Future plans being considered consist of adding three canoe/kayak access points along Onondaga Creek.