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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Interstate 81 runs through the heart of Syracuse, N.Y., where a 1.4-mile-long elevated stretch of the highway is known locally as "the viaduct." Like many road projects built in the middle of the last century, I-81 is bumping up against the end of its life span. While officials say it's still safe to drive on, the highway is crumbling in parts.