I-81

Kijin Higashibaba

The original construction of Interstate 81 through Syracuse changed the city and region forever. Now there are plans to tear down the highway and there are some who see the replacement process as a chance to help Syracuse’s poverty problem.  The highway and poverty are linked in surprising ways, WAER's Kijin Higashibaba reports in Part 2 of their examination of I-81 and poverty. 

Go to citylimitsproject.org to hear the full, unabridged version of this episode. 

City Limits: I-81 And Racial Segregation In Syracuse

Mar 7, 2018

Interstate 81 that runs through Syracuse has outlived its useful life and there are plans to tear it down. What comes next is a very hot topic at the moment. There are some who see the future of the highway as an opportunity to make a difference in the staggering racial segregation and poverty in the city. As a part of WAER's Poverty Project, Kijin Higashibaba look into the highway's past to understand why. 

Go to citylimitsproject.org to hear the full, unabridged version of this episode. 

With Interstate 81 declared to have outlived it's useful life, there are some who see the future of the highway as an opportunity to make a difference in the staggering poverty crisis in the city. WAER’s Kijin Higashibaba looks back on the history of the highway to understand why.

If you like what you hear find more content from the project at CityLimitsProject.org . And subscribe in ITunes for automatic delivery of new episodes

University Hill Corporation

Development around Syracuse University and along the Genesee Street corridor is leading to ‘transformation.’  That was the message from the University Hill Corporation at its annual meeting today.  President David Mankiewicz draws attention to numerous housing and other projects underway right now. 

“The Marshall, a $40.5-million mixed-use complex, is being built at 727 S. Crouse Ave.  Pete Campus is constructing Theory Syracuse, a 604 bed, $66-million project.  The 505 on Walnut; it represents an investment of $46.4 million.”

The Central New York chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union is hosting a panel discussion about the ongoing plans for I-81, and how it will impact racial isolation and economic exclusion in Onondaga County. 

The panel will be moderated by Director Yusuf Abdul-Qadir. He says plans for the highway must include consideration of the issues of poverty and segregation in the city.

“It’s unfathomable that we would have a community that has the highest concentrations of poverty of African Americans and Latinos and not use this as a means to address those issues." 

Leo Tully / WAER News

A pair of Syracuse-area state lawmakers presented a report Friday that they say shows a community grid can’t be a stand-alone replacement for I-81 through the city.  The report by a former Chief Engineer of New York State Department of Transportation found the need to maintain traffic flow in and out of Syracuse.  State Senator John DeFrancisco and Assemblymember Bill Magnarelli say a hybrid solution might be best.

Federal Highway Administration / mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/

As everyone anticipates what design will be adopted for the I-81 project through Syracuse, one Onondaga County Legislator already predicts how the construction will impact motorists.  John Dougherty wants to formally ask the Governor and the State to make the construction project easier for motorists and communities.

"What I'd like to see is tolls eliminated between exits 39 and 34-A," Dougherty said.  "So anyone getting on or off between any of those exits would simply not pay a toll.”  

Scott Willis/WAER News

The twists and turns of the options to address the aging I-81 viaduct through Syracuse and what residents think or really desire is about to take center stage this Wednesday evening.  A public information forum will be held at Henninger High School with members of the State D-O-T and a local delegation of state elected officials to listen. 

Senator John DeFrancisco says there are members of the public who feel the options haven’t been considered in a comprehensive way.

“We understand what the DOT wants to do. But we really want to get points brought out in the public, and more importantly, questions answered as far as what is going to happen, and some think that other alternatives have to be explored.”

Majority Support Keeping I-81's Current Route, New Poll Shows

Dec 6, 2016
Scott Willis

A group that wants to keep Interstate 81 – or at least its path – through downtown Syracuse has some new support for its position. A new poll by the group Save 81 showed that the majority of respondents support keeping the highway’s current route. Spokesperson Mark Nicotra said past surveys have showed that people are in favor of keeping 81 running through the city, and they wanted to feel the public’s temperature once again.

“We want to see it that still was the thought process and we thought it might be and we are certainly excited to see that it was.”

Scott Willis / WAER News

Syracuse Common Councilors want to make sure the state knows where they stand when it comes to redevelopment of I-81 north of the I-690 interchange.  Councilors passed a resolution Monday asking the governor to direct the DOT to acknowledge the potential damage that could be done by the current proposal.

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