Ithaca Builds

Mapping, photos and information for Ithaca construction and development projects



October 7, 2013 // by Jason Henderson

Soo… at long last, like many other folks that use the current trails, I was overjoyed to see these plans pop-up for City Planning Board consideration. These Phase Two plans are for the anticipated connection between the Stewart Park/Golf Course waterfront trail section and the Cass Park trail section, including bridges spanning the two waterways between the Cayuga inlet island. The plans show a proposed path from the Park Road trail section, then over the inlet following the Cliff Street and Buffalo Street bridges, and up along the inlet waterfront to just past 3rd Street, where the current trail meets and wraps around the Ithaca Farmer’s Market.

The Cayuga Waterfront Trail Initiative just launched a new website, which will likely provide further information on the proposed connection.

The design work was completed by Bergman Associates, and the new pedestrian/bike bridges will be accepting bids for design, fabricate and build pricing from the bridge contractors listed on the bridge scope document below.

State & Mitchell Utility & Prep-work for Traffic Light Poles

October 3, 2013 // by Jason Henderson

The State and Mitchell intersection light pole concrete bases have been set, poured, and anchor plates are in, as well as what looks like the utility service to each future traffic light. Traffic up there has been Stop All Way since the new curbing work began, so I bet there will be a sigh of relief from many commuters once the lights are up.



Quite Unrelated, but Why Not? Philly’s Terminal F

October 2, 2013 // by Jason Henderson

If you’ve ever flown out of or into the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport headed to or coming from the West coast, odds are, you’re quite familiar with the Philadelphia Airport’s Terminal F. It’s been under construction (and still is) for quite a while, but I wanted to share the new main terminal lobby photos, since it was recently completed (and it’s pretty gosh darn cool). As announced back in August, the terminal will be undergoing a $127 million expansion as well (as part of the half-billion dollar active renovations for the whole airport, which will run a tab over $6.4 billion over the course of 12-15 years). I wasn’t there when all the shops opened-up, but things will be getting “swanky”.




Lake Street Bridge Work Planned, Old Elmira Road Delayed

September 18, 2013 // by Jason Henderson

The City of Ithaca has announced a $1.464 million capital project to replace the deck and refurbish the structure of the Lake Street Bridge (the first bridge after Ithaca Falls, behind the high school) with an 80% reimbursement from the Federal Highway Administration, and a 15% reimbursement from the NYS Department of Transportation.

In other civic news, the primary work for the Old Elmira Road complete street project has been delayed until next year.


Thoughts on Parking and Minimum Parking Requirements

September 3, 2013 // by Jason Henderson


There’s been a lot of discussion generated on minimum parking requirements for new developments in Ithaca, and I thought I’d throw in my two cents.

Firstly, to define: minimum parking requirements are rules that determine how many parking spaces must be supplied on a proposed development based on various features of the proposal (number of planned dwelling units, square footage of planned office space, etc., Central Business District not included).

Given that the City of Ithaca now has a parking director, and the Board of Public Works has announced their support of abolition, my hope is that a discussion on minimum parking requirements for new development resurfaces once the new director has established a “current state of affairs” and a sound plan of action for parking managed by the City.

The social, economic, and physical implications are well studied, and I recommend turning to this short and excellent video of Cornell’s Michael Manville (link courtesy of Daniel Keough) for a brief overview of what has been identified in modern studies:



A philosophical basis for arguing in favor of abolition has roots in the inequity of placing the burden of provision on the private sphere, specifically, new building developments. Just about everywhere in the US, municipalities have decided that parking should be built municipally and provided at a cost to willing consumers, and thus we have municipal garages, metered street parking, and of course, “free” parking, which is parking that carries a public and social cost, but is free to the consumer. One could argue that public entities shouldn’t be in the business of providing parking at all, and furthermore, that car owners should establish their own private arrangements for vehicle storage, but in this case, that’s beside the point.

Any planning rule, especially minimum provisions, imply an enforced sponsorship upon the developer/owner of the good that must be supplied on the development parcel. Minimum parking requirements create one of the most extreme situations, because it involves the mandated supply of a good that generally takes up a lot of land space, making the opportunity cost high, and in addition, parking itself is not a very productive use of space. In turn, the owner must shift this burden onto the consumers of the building space, whether they are apartment tenants, office, or retail tenants.

The enforcement of this burden works a lot like a tax. Let’s use a new apartment development as an example: the development will charge higher rents because a burden of supplying parking has been put on them (and oddly enough, the building itself was contingent on whether or not it could supply the required parking). In turn, a portion of rent from apartment renters can be attributed to this burden.

Apartment renters in this example are sponsoring the cost of vehicle ownership regardless of whether they own a vehicle or not, and in addition, are sponsoring the automobile ownership of existing drivers in the area. Ideally, those that decide to own a car should pay for the full cost of that ownership and usage. These rules enforce a “me first” policy for existing drivers, whom are commonly the political constituents of those in office with the power to make change.

There seems to be an American (especially young, urban) trend against automobile-use in general, and there are countless other reasons as to why that is, but in this case, it’s quite clear that the argument in favor of the abolition of these sorts of rules is rooted in sound logic of fairness.

Of course, if minimums were done away with, then you get parking spillover into areas with “free” parking, or un-metered street parking. In this case, as mentioned in the video, the remedy is to price parking. “Free” parking is not economically free. Taxpayers right now are paying for the space regardless, and it would be a fairer and more efficient policy to price parking provided by a municipality. Parking benefit districts, restrictions, and permitting are all logical and efficient policies that should be utilized in favor of minimum parking requirements.

San Francisco’s SFPark is one example of this sort of policy, aimed at using demand-driven information to establish pricing. This sort of system is probably out of reach for Ithaca for quite some time, but given the small size of Ithaca, it probably wouldn’t take long to figure out what pricing would be appropriate, and what permitting system would work best for everyone.

As for new developments, it’s not hard to imagine that developers tend to have a good understanding of what parking demand they will see in their proposed developments, so if there is demand for parking on-site, it will be planned to meet that demand (with the consideration of opportunity cost), and will come with a price, as it should.

Ithaca Bike Boulevard

June 10, 2013 // by James Douglas

Perhaps this post should be called the Safe Routes to School project, but we’re gonna go with Bike Boulevard Plan for this one. Building on the trend of creatively and effectively applying for grants, the City of Ithaca together with the Ithaca City School District were able to secure close to $300,000 from the NYS Department of Transportation to construct what is essentially the City’s bike boulevard plan, adopted September, 2012.
The proposed system will be made up of dedicated bike lanes on select streets (Third from Cascadilla to Thirteen, and Tioga from Court to the Commons are proposed), and other streets made more bicycle and pedestrian appropriate by lowering the speed limit to 25mph, added signage, and traffic calming measures like speed humps/tables.
The plan, shown below, is made to make Boynton Middle School, the High School, Fall Creek elementary, and BJM elementary accessible by bicycle for residents of “The Flats.” Beyond schools, the route makes going from the Ithaca Falls to Wegmans a much simpler ride.
Given that the adopted route was made before funding was secured under a different pretense, expect certain changes to be made on the route, such as extending the boulevard down Cayuga St to Boynton, and perhaps responding to any commentary from the public, which the City intends to solicit soon. It is estimated that the construction of the Bike Boulevard/Safe Route to School will happen in 2015. More on this as it develops.