Design students to propose "Iconic Connections" for Erie waterfront. Local media misses opportunity to educate.

Kristen Zeiber, Project Manager, Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative met with Erie leaders at the JES.

Kristen Zeiber, Project Manager, Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative met with Erie leaders at the JES.

Reporters have a responsibility to present issues in proper contexts surrounding crucial public proposals.

Your Erie reports on “Project Gateway” being organized by the Jefferson Educational Society October 17th - 19th, 2019. Urban design students from Kent State and other universities working with the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative will propose connections to Erie’s waterfront.

Erie News Now also reported on the August 21 meeting noting that both Erie Mayor Joe Schember and Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper support this effort to generate proposals regarding the future connectivity of Erie’s waterfront, without committing to any changes in PennDOT’s current plans for roundabouts, and underpass and pedestrian overpasses.

In his August 24th editorial, “A fresh look at Bayfront Parkway” Pat Howard noted that many drivers prefer to “bisect” Erie by driving quickly across the Bayfront rather than using 12th or 26th streets.

Not one of these reports including the important fact that not one of Erie’s city or county comprehensive plans encourage more cars, trucks and tractor-trailers on the waterfront. In fact, Erie Refocused (aka the “Buki Plan”) directs Erie decision-makers to prioritize the needs and preferences of pedestrians and bicyclists over vehicles.

This local coverage of the CUDC’s upcoming visit to Erie ignores the foundational element of this study.  The many master plans that include addressing the waterfront avoided calling for a widened bayfront highway and instead called for greater connection to the downtown to reverse the fragmentation of our community: 


The Erie Refocused Master Plan of 2015 by CZB calls for (P.38): “Create an iconic connection between the Bayfront and downtown” The Port Authority Master Plan of 2017 by Albert Kahn Associates Inc. calls for (p. 63): “Connect the Bayfront and treat it as an extension of the Downtown” P.4 identifies the following as a challenge: “Access and connectivity barriers.” It is logical to extend this important guideline to say “do not create barriers between the downtown and the waterfront. The Erie Downtown Partnership Master Plan calls for (p. 47): “One critical area adjacent to downtown outside the official physical boundaries of the DID, is that portion of the Bayfront to the west of the Convention Center--the former GAF site (west of the Convention Center). As this property develops, its connection to Downtown Erie is critical.” The Our West Bayfront Community Plan of 2016 by City Architecture calls for the following at the State Street overpass of the Bayfront Highway (p.37): “This focus area (Northeast portion of OWB) is anchored by a proposed pedestrian bridge over the Bayfront Connector, to provide direct and safe access to the waterfront.”


All four these master plans identified that the prime issue relative to the bayfront parkway is to reverse its current status as a barrier to downtown connectivity, and focus on local resident and business quality of life and livablity by FOCUSING PRIMARILY on pedestrian and bike connectivity. Current PennDOT plans are focused instead increasing traffic volume and diminishing pedestrian and bike connectivity from the region’s greatest amenity, the waterfront.

It is the responsibility of the local news sources to present the issue in its full and proper context and avoid cherry-picking aspects of an issue that can easily misguide the public through the omission of important facts.