Syracuse is contemplating removing the elevated portion of Interstate 81 that runs straight through the city for much the same reasons Rochester wants to get rid of the Inner Loop. The Post-Standard reports the highway divides the city and creates barriers to development:
The 1.4 miles of I-81 that splits Syracuse’s downtown from the University Hill will reach the end of its useful life in 2017.
The ideas include leaving it alone, rebuilding it in its current state, burying the lanes in a tunnel, or creating a boulevard running through the city.
In the 1920s, former governor Horace White, who had Syracuse roots, warned against building elevated railroads, a system that eventually led to the construction of an elevated I-81:
“In my humble opinion, the proposed elevated plan … would mean the infliction of another monstrosity upon our home for a time beyond calculation. Of course, … elevation … would doubtless be the cheapest, the most expeditious, the easiest in the matter of engineering work for the railroads, but it would be like ripping a savage septic wound across a human face — likely to infect the whole body, sure to ruin its appearance.
“It would mean that the city would be divided into sections, property would be seriously damaged, the environs would be marred and disfigured, the public health and comfort would be endangered and our taxes would be increased by depreciated assessments.
He could also have been talking about the Inner Loop, for which Rochester razed buildings and rearranged neighborhoods. The sunken highway is now considered a noose around the neck of downtown. Nowhere is the strangulation more evident than the East/Union corridor, where the flow of the East End is interrupted and surface parking lots and backs of buildings line the highway.
Rochester’s mayor submitted legislation to City Council this month to further study the economic impact of filling in the eastern portion of the Inner Loop. Preliminary estimates show nine acres of land would be available for development than could result in more than $120 million of private investment. Getting more finely-tuned information about the impact of raising the highway is important.
Links of the Day:
- This is sure to go over well. Not. New York State lawmakers are scheming for a pay raise.
- Rochester City Hall is planning a big crackdown on convenience stores, which have proliferated in recent years.
- Niagara Falls desperately needs the money the Senecas are withholding from the city because of a dispute with the state over racetrack video slots.