Binghamton University isn’t the only thing getting revamped in the Binghamton area. One area that is near and dear to students’ hearts is set for a makeover.
The city of Binghamton was awarded $480,000 on Oct. 27 to renovate State Street. The funds were made available by the Federal Highway Administration as a part of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $70 million initiative to support projects across New York state.
The State Street project was selected by the State Department of Transportation based on public benefit, community support and improvements to promote walking and biking, according to a press release from the governor.
The renovation of State Street will include new street paving and striping, bike lanes, pedestrian crossings and landscaping. Totaling to roughly $600,000 altogether, the additional $120,000 will be provided by local funds.
State Street was chosen because of its location at the heart of Downtown Binghamton and its proximity to BU, according to Deputy Mayor Jared Kraham.
“It really is going to be the key to enhance the gateway into the Downtown area,” Kraham said.
A goal of Cuomo’s initiative is to boost tourism and development opportunities across communities in New York, and according to Kraham, Binghamton will see those effects after the construction.
“This project will beautify infrastructure and spark new economic development opportunities along State Street,” Kraham said. “The added bonus is it’s the road from campus to Downtown.”
Business owners, like Uncle Tony’s owner Bryan Whiting, said the improvements will benefit the area through temporary employment and permanent results.
“Infrastructure is always a good investment,” Whiting said. “Anything that brings jobs into Binghamton is a good thing.”
Kassandra Smykowski, a senior double-majoring in financial economics and English who lives on State Street, said Downtown is ready for renovations, and that more bike paths and pedestrian areas would be good for BU students.
“Binghamton University is such a bubble — there is a disconnect between being a student and being a member of the Downtown community,” Smykowski said. “It would give an incentive to be more of an active member and explore the town you live in for four years.”
The construction will cover State Street from the intersections of Susquehanna Street to Hawley Street, and according to Kraham, will cause minimal disturbances to the residents and business owners along in the area.
“That stretch of State Street is not a high retail area,” Kraham said. “And we will make sure there will be pedestrian access during construction.”
Ron Sall, president of the Downtown Binghamton Business Association, admitted that although businesses might be affected by construction, the end result would be beneficial.
“Of course businesses are going to be affected; there’s no other way around getting things done,” Sall said. “State Street to Hawley was not done correctly, so this administration is trying to fix it.”
Larry Shea, owner of State Street establishment Tom & Marty’s, said the long-term benefits of renovation outweigh the short term disruption.
“As a business owner, I’m always concerned in terms of construction,” Shea said. “It’s an inconvenience, but that’s all it is. We can deal with the short term. In the big picture, I certainly am applauding them.”
But Jessie Ramirez, a junior majoring in biochemistry who lives Downtown, is apprehensive about new construction projects in the Binghamton area.
“With all the other construction in Binghamton it doesn’t seem like the best time to start,” Ramirez said. “Like the exit detour on 4S and now Riverside, it seems like a bit much.”
According to Kraham, the project is projected to be completed by the fall of 2016.