i-81

Zack Seward / WXXI

The possibility of Interstate 81 someday being buried under Syracuse is still alive, but it’s hard to tell just how seriously state transportation planners are considering it. Businesses and suburban-centric officials have been pushing for a so-called hybrid replacement for Interstate 81. 

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Onondaga County Legislature has put its support behind a so-called hybrid option to replace Interstate 81 through Syracuse, the same day the Downtown Committee put its weight behind the boulevard plan.

It’s another example of the suburban versus urban divide that has developed over this lengthy debate about the future of Interstate 81.

The Downtown Committee compared the two options the state transportation department is formally studying right now: a rebuilt viaduct, or the highway’s diversion around the city and replacing it with a boulevard.

oliver_hine / via Flickr

A sharply divided city argues over whether to keep a major transit link running through downtown, or to route it around the outskirts of town.

It’s nearly the same debate going on today, but this was in the 1920s. Then, Syracuse was arguing over whether to build an elevated rail corridor through downtown, as Dennis Connors, curator of the Onondaga Historical Association explains.

"And there was a whole campaign, the pro-leave it downtown and elevate it, versus the move it out of downtown and put it around the north side of the city," he said.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County lawmakers will again be able to weigh in on the decision about the future of Interstate 81. Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon will ask lawmakers to stand behind the option he believes is the best compromise among the plans being discussed.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Syracuse-area Rep. John Katko is jumping into the discussion on the future of Interstate 81.  The Republican is calling on the New York state and federal governments to include all options for the future of I-81 when a scoping report is released to the public in the coming weeks.  

Rethink81

A group of architects and urban developers favoring the removal of the interstate through downtown Syracuse are out with a drawing of what the city could look like if the roadway was gone.

The group, ReThink 81, is making the argument that tearing down the elevated highway would make room for economic growth, where currently the roadway creates a gap in economic vitality between downtown and University Hill. The highway bisects those two neighborhoods.

Zack Seward / WXXI

The Syracuse Common Council is taking a formal stand on what should be done with the aging infrastructure of Interstate 81. The lawmakers will tell the state they want the viaduct gone.

The future of the mile and a half of elevated highway cutting through downtown has become a urban versus suburban divide. Man city residents and elected leaders say the highway is just that: a divide through the middle of the city, which blocks economic growth and isolates communities.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks about father Mario Cuomo's love of Fort Drum

Dec 9, 2014
Karen Dewitt / WRVO

After Gov. Andrew Cuomo participated in Monday's homecoming ceremony at Fort Drum, he was asked by a reporter about his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo and the work he did with Fort Drum while he was in office.

Former Gov. Mario Cuomo has reportedly been hospitalized for several weeks because of a heart condition, and his son has not spoken much in public about his father's health.

The current governor said he and one of his daughters visited his father Sunday night and told him the 82 year-old he would be visiting Fort Drum the next day.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Two recent surveys have solidified a suburban-city divide over the future of Interstate 81 in Syracuse, with people living outside the city want to see the elevated roadway stay. 

A Siena College/Syracuse Media Group poll released over the weekend found that people living outside of Syracuse’s borders want to see the highway’s path through downtown preserved, compared to an urban boulevard replacing the aged roadway.

Zack Seward / WXXI

Another study, another round of public comments. It may seem like the decision-making process on the future of the elevated Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse will never end.

An end is in sight, even if it’s still far off. Transportation officials say they hope to make a decision on whether to rebuild the viaduct, divert it around the city or tunnel it underground, in 18 months to two years.

Rethink 81

Rebuilding Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse will mean impact to properties along it. Now a group opposed to that has outlined what impact a new, wider elevated highway could have on the cityscape.

The state transportation department says as many as 40 buildings in Syracuse could have to come down to make way for a wider highway cutting through downtown, since a new viaduct would have to be up to 30 feet wider to meet regulations for modern roadways.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Syracuse University campus would be greatly impacted by the reconstruction of Interstate 81 through the city, a university working group has determined.

When visitors to the Syracuse University campus exit the Interstate 81 viaduct, they’re currently faced with an “unattractive city fabric,” the study concludes.

"The experience of the University is not such a good one because it’s not so clear how to get to the university," said dean of architecture Michael Speaks, who led the group, adding drivers must navigate a "cluttered path."

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Tighter curves built into a new Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse could mean fewer buildings along the highway’s path would need to be torn down.

Rebuilding the mile and a half of elevated interstate through the city is one of two options transportation planners are recommending for how to replace the current, aging viaduct.

But a new viaduct would have to be significantly wider than the current one in order to be up to highway standards. It could also be up to ten feet higher.

Zack Seward / WXXI

Syracuse looks less likely to go through its own Big Dig, as state highway transportation officials recommend a tunnel or depressed highway are not the best options for a rebuilt Interstate 81 through Syracuse.

Transportation officials have been considering several variations of four core options for a new I-81: a rebuilt viaduct, a street-level boulevard, a tunnel, or sunken roadway.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

A new Interstate 81 could rise 25 feet higher than it currently does, or be buried 81 feet below the ground's surface. Those are just two of the 16 options the state Department of Transportation has revealed to the public as an update to their lengthy process of choosing how to replace the current roadway.

There are two constants in the 16 options: The north-south I-81 will be properly connected with the east-west I-690 in all directions. And properties will have to be knocked down, though DOT provided few details about that.

N.Y. Department of Transportation

A tunnel to replace Interstate 81's current elevated path through downtown Syracuse could take four possible routes through the city.

The New York Department of Transportation revealed tunnel options ahead of a meeting to explain all 16 possible variations of a new Interstate 81 in Syracuse. 

Interstate 81 runs from the Canadian border in the north to the Pennsylvania border in the south. The 50-year-old highway carries thousands of cars each day through Syracuse.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

New York’s transportation commissioner says a final decision about the future of the elevated stretch of Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse will be made in a year and a half.

DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald discussed the future of the aging raised highway at a budget hearing today in Albany. "It's not an easy project," she said.

McDonald says her department will be out in March with more information on what impact to other roadways changes to I-81 could create, then it's on to the next step.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Another group has formed to weigh in on the future of Interstate 81’s path through downtown Syracuse. This one calling for a focus on moving people, not cars.

The elevated stretch of I-81 through downtown Syracuse is nearing the end of its 50 year lifespan. Area residents are entwined in a lengthy debate over its second life, which largely boils down to rebuild or reroute.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO

For five years, central New Yorkers have been talking about what should be done with an interstate viaduct that is reaching the end of its lifespan. The discussion is now formal, with the New York State Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration holding the first scoping session in Syracuse, meant to gather community input on the issue.

Zack Seward / WXXI

A group of suburban politicians and business owners that support keeping Interstate 81 running through the city of Syracuse are out with a poll they say shows most residents agree with them.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

A decision on one of Syracuse's largest development projects of the century is still years away, but already opinions are becoming entrenched as others plea for more talking and new ideas.

A 1.4 mile elevated stretch of Interstate 81 running right through downtown Syracuse, known as the viaduct, will soon need to be replaced and state and federal transportation officials are in the midst of a lengthy decision process to decide how the next incarnation of the roadway will look and work. A decision is penciled in for 2017.

Zack Seward / WXXI

New York state is holding another round of meetings regarding a topic that could change the face of Syracuse. The Department of Transportation begins a series of neighborhood sessions on Wednesday meant to get more feedback on the future of the Interstate 81 viaduct through downtown Syracuse.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Rob Simpson, head of the economic booster organization CenterState CEO, has called on state transportation planners and central New Yorkers to think bigger when it comes to making the decision about the future of the elevated portion of Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse.

The 1.4 miles of elevated highway is beginning to crumble. Transportation planners are in the midst of a lengthy process to decide the final form of a redesigned I-81. Most debate has centered around rebuilding the viaduct through downtown or re-routing it around the city.

The debate polarized the community and lawmakers over the summer.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

After a few weeks delay, transportation planners in central New York are moving forward with the next step in the lengthy process of deciding Interstate 81's fate in downtown Syracuse.

The 1.4 mile stretch of elevated highway through downtown, known as the viaduct, is reaching the end of its useable lifespan.

On Monday, the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council approved a $32 million study as part of the next phase of the project. This coming after a lengthy public engagement process and studies by SMTC itself.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Brushing off concerns it may be too little, too late, a new group of business owners and lawmakers has formed to oppose the seemingly narrowed options for the next incarnation of Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse.

Save 81 launched Thursday to call for more options for what to do about the aging 1.4 mile stretch of I-81 through the city. While the group is opposed to the "urban boulevard" idea pushed for by many city residents, it said it has no "pre-ordained design" as an alternative.

Zack Seward / WXXI

The next stage of the planning process regarding the future of the elevated portion of Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse has been pushed back a few weeks, as heat grows on state officials over the process.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Just a handful of Syracuse residents turned up to the Common Council's first public hearing on the lengthy and divisive debate over the future of Interstate 81 through the city's core.

Previous public forums hosted by transportation planners brought out hundreds of people and generated an equal number of comments and different opinions.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Syracuse-area Rep. Dan Maffei has weighed in on the future of Interstate 81 through the city’s downtown. The Democrat, from suburban DeWitt, is calling for more creative options than the ones currently on the table.

Transportation planners last week unveiled the two options (whittled down from five) they’ve deemed most feasible for the aging Interstate 81: rebuilding the elevated highway, or rerouting it and putting an urban boulevard in its place.

Zack Seward / WXXI

Transportation planners have narrowed the future of Interstate 81’s path through downtown Syracuse down to two likely options: rebuild, or re-route.

Fort Drum connector road to I-81 opens

Dec 6, 2012

The highway project that creates a direct connection between Interstate 81 and Fort Drum's main gate opened Thursday.

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