Rust to Green Green Infrastructure

Bleeker Street Project, Utica, NY

Streetscape Board

Bleeker Street’s oldest Mercantile Block once bordered the historic Erie Canal and this part of the city was a hub of urban activity and commercial and social exchange. Many of the block’s facades have been undergoing renovations with Main Street funds secured by the City in partnership with Utica Landmarks. As part of that initiative, Rust to Green assisted City Engineering by developing a design proposal to revitalize the streetscape of the entire block and to make recommendations for green infrastructure design strategies that could be used to mitigate stormwater. Students working as summer R2G Civic Fellows developed detailed design proposals for paving, sidewalk layout, plantings and curb extensions that are designed to capture sidewalk and street runoff into pre-treatment drainage basins planted with water tolerant plant species. They also proposed mitigating the impact of the vacant site on the block’s east end by closing it to street access from Bleeker and returning the façade continuity to the site with a proposed public art ‘history wall’ to run along what would have been a building’s length. This art wall could be the site of an interpretive panel telling the story of the Erie Canal and the role this important block has played in Utica’s unfolding history and development.  While the city chose not to incorporate green practices in the final streetscape work, overall streetscape and curb layouts and configurations were guided by Rust to Green-developed design proposals. Furthermore, the green infrastructure practices developed for this proposal provided a demonstration case and offered increased understanding of how to go about undertaking such modifications on Utica’s streets in the future.

Project Goals

-Propose feasible means of implementing green design practices so as to mitigate effects of stormwater runoff and reduce inflow to the city’s combined sewage system.


City of Utica Engineering Department
City of Utica Parks Department
Landmarks Society of Greater Utica
City of Utica Urban Planning Department