Common Council Leaders Want Interstate 81 Taken Down

‘81 is coming down,’ adds City Clerk

Originally reported on October 22, 2012 

By Jonathan Olens SYRACUSE (NCC NEWS) – Several members of the Syracuse Common Council voiced their opinions Monday on the future of Interstate 81. Although there are differing opinions, many members expressed that they want I-81 to come down. Interstate 81 currently travels through the city by passing over it, essentially dividing the city in half in the process.

“I-81 does not meet today’s standards,” said Common Councilor Jean Kessner.

Interstate 81 © Syracuse University 2011

In order for the interstate to meet today’s standards, it would need to be taken down and rebuilt, according to Common Council President Van Robinson.

Robinson has four ideas on how to replace the interstate by the year 2017. The four ideas are a “Big Dig,” trench, building a highway on street level of the city, or a boulevard that would also be on level ground with the city. Of these four ideas, though, he ruled out the “Big Dig” and the trench ideas, leaving the latter two ideas remaining.

The “Big Dig” is being ruled out, according to Robinson, because the “Big Dig” would be too expensive for the city. In addition, Syracuse is built on a swamp. Trenching would not be possible either due to engineering problems, as well as liability issues the city would face with area around the project.

While several of the Common Councilors expressing their opinion in favor of the removal of the interstate, others are waiting. Once studies come out, decisions can be made on the future of I-81, including if and how it will be taken down and what will replace it, according to Common Councilor Kathleen Joy.

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