Interstate 81 has caused problems for Syracuse drivers for years. After plans to build a tunnel were shot down, two options now remain for I-81: to establish a community grid or to completely rebuild the elevated highway.
Mayor Stephanie Miner stated in early October that whatever decision is made regarding the Interstate should be made in favor of Syracuse residents and drivers, not just cars.
“I want to continue to emphasize there’s got to be community involvement,” said Miner. “Particularly people who live in the shadow of 81. I’ve been very open and public with my comments about how the final solution should enhance livability and vitality.”
Miner declined to endorse either proposed option.
According to Syracuse.com, getting rid of the current highway and installing a community grid would reroute traffic around the city on Interstate 481 and send vehicles heading into Syracuse onto city streets. The grid option, originally called Grid No. 2, would result in the teardown of the viaduct from Monroe Street to I-690, and instead have a urban arterial leading to various city streets.
If the grid option is chosen, police may have to increase patrol on both I-481 and the new arterial due to the significant amount of new traffic each road would get. Of all vehicle-related fatalities, 32% are from drunk driving, 31% are from speeding, 16% are from distracted driving, and 11% are from inclement weather conditions.
Miner has opposed the I-81 viaduct for a few years. She believes that the highway is hindering the city’s opportunity to thrive.
“An elevated viaduct doesn’t make any sense for our community,” Miner said at a roundtable event. “Look at it now, it’s a dead zone. It cuts off the largest engine of economic development, University Hill, from a burgeoning downtown. The entities on University Hill are landlocked. We want them to grow. Those are good jobs.”
The New York Department of Transportation is currently meeting to discuss renovation plans for the highway.