Syracuse City Clerk: ‘Interstate 81 is coming down’

Decision not expected until 2017

Originally reported on October 22, 2012

Syracuse Common Councilor Kathleen Joy speaking to Syracuse University students about her opinion on I-81’s potential removal
© Rachel Wolsky 2012

By Rachel C. Wolsky SYRACUSE (NCC NEWS) – Syracuse Common Council President Van Robinson and City Clerk John Copanas said Monday that they are certain that Interstate 81 does not have a place in Syracuse’s future. I-81 is falling apart, according to Robinson.

 “We are spending countless of millions of dollars right now on a Band-Aid on a wound,” Robinson said referring to the interstate that became part of Syracuse’s landscape more than five decades ago.

 The highway does not meet any of the modern day standards.  I-81 would need to be built twice as wide along with several other features to meet today’s standards, according to City Clerk John Copanas.

 City leaders call the interstate a clear divide in the city of Syracuse separating Syracuse University and the hospitals from the downtown area. The removal of I-81 would eliminate this divide and bring the two areas together, Copanas believes.

 Other councilors are not so quick to jump on their decision on I-81’s fate.  Councilor Kathleen Joy feels that there needs to be more thought and planning before making a decision.

 “I think it needs to come down because it does divide the city; it’s ugly. I think it has to be done properly with a lot more study that goes into it and a lot of input from the community before any final decision is made,” explained Councilor Joy.

 Councilor Patrick Hogan made similar points to Councilor Joy as he stressed the need for planning.  He felt that I-81 should not be torn down without further research and a practical plan in place.

 A final decision will be made about I-81’s future by 2017, according to Robinson.

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