Common Councilors Disagree About I-81’s Future

Councilors still uncertain on resolution over interstate issue

Originally reported on October 22, 2012

By Michael Valente SYRACUSE (NCC NEWS) – Syracuse City Clerk John P. Copanas said Monday that Interstate-81 “is coming down,” but the Syracuse Common Council is nowhere close to coming to a definitive solution over the interstate.

The ongoing discussion has focused on the possibility of removing I-81 in an effort to directly connect the Syracuse University campus to downtown Syracuse and the area hospitals. Some councilors hope that the interstate will be replaced with a boulevard that will make downtown more accessible. However, the questions of how, when, and why I-81 will be torn down remain unanswered.

After Copanas stressed that I-81 will be torn down, other councilors Monday were not as steadfast.

“We have to think proactively,” Councilor Patrick J. Hogan said. “We have to think two or three steps down the line.”

That ideology is exactly why the issue of I-81 is up in the air. While some members such as Councilor Hogan are reluctant to set a timeframe for when – and if – the interstate will be brought down, others are eager to get the project off the ground.

Common Council President Van B. Robinson told reporters that he wants I-81 to come down by 2017. He stressed that the highway is not practical to keep maintained. Robinson referenced studies that found that after highways were removed, traffic was reduced.

Councilor Kathleen Joy, however, said Monday that more studies within the community need to be conducted before any action is taken. She did, though, concede to Robinson’s main argument.

“I think it needs to come down,” Joy admitted.

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