Here is some really exciting news. Syracuse is going ahead with a study on removing the elevated portion of interstate 81 through its downtown. A notice has been filed in the Federal Register to study three replacement options: a new elevated structure, a tunnel, and an at-grade boulevard.
Hopefully the study will find the at-grade boulevard as the preferred option. Eliminating the blight of the elevated arterial would help revitalize nearby neighborhoods. No doubt there will be some who complain about traffic impacts. But as we saw in San Francisco, those complaints are overblown.
Interstate-81 is #9 on CNU’s list of Freeways Without Futures:
The construction of Interstate 81 (I-81) in Syracuse in 1957 destroyed a historic black community, ruined the economic activity within the area, and caused major barriers to development since its construction. Average annual daily traffic on I-81 ranges from about 43,000 to 99,000 vehicle per day as it runs just east of downtown and connects with I-690. As with many structures from this era, this six-lane structure is near the end of its design life and more attention is being paid to the negative effects that I-81 brings to downtown Syracuse.
In 2001, Syracuse Common Councilor Van Robinson called for the removal of elevated portions of the interstate. Leading figures from Syracuse University and Upstate Medical University, who see I-81 as an eyesore and impediment to the growth of their respective institutions, have also joined the discussion with support for removal.