• LaBella Associates

Ithaca Commons Redesign Project Nears Completion

LaBella was retained by the City of Ithaca and prime consultant Sasaki Associates for the Ithaca Commons Redesign. LaBella provided both civil and electrical engineering services for underground utilities.

The Commons is a pedestrian mall in downtown Ithaca, NY, created during urban renewal in the 1970's. The idea was to create an urban pedestrian shopping experience to compete with the suburban malls and revitalize downtown. The reconstruction was needed because the concrete paving and utilities were at the end of their serviceable lives. The redesign concept places the main pedestrian traffic pattern in the center of the Commons, more like a traditional streetscape, as opposed to the old design with an obstructed center.

LaBella was responsible for designing all underground utilities which included improvements to water mains, sanitary sewers, storm sewers, drainage systems, City-owned electrical distribution, and telecom distribution. Utility work also included coordination of modifications to NYSEG gas mains, NYSEG power, and Verizon communication ducts. LaBella also performed structural evaluations of underground structures (i.e. areaway vaults) to determine whether reinforcement or removal was necessary.

Many unanticipated underground obstructions were discovered during the construction phase of this project. This required LaBella to quickly and effectively coordinate with both the contractors and city personnel to adjust utility locations as needed.

Construction phasing and MPOT were critical elements that were incorporated into the overall design to minimize disruption to business operations and related pedestrian / vehicle access during construction. Construction took place through the center of the commons, maintaining pedestrian access down both sides. A temporary fence/low wall was installed on both sides down the center, and local artists painted murals along the fencing, helping the area maintain a visually attractive appearance.

This project is currently in its last phase, which includes the installation of a water feature. LaBella is the Owner’s representative for this portion of the project, and is responsible for ensuring that the project will be completed on time and on budget.

#municipal #utilities