Interstate 81 debate heats up in July

There was plenty of discussion about the future of Interstate 81 happening throughout July, but we all know the debate exploded when the Post-Standard published its lengthy editorial supporting a community grid replacement for this important highway.

But any disappointment Save 81 felt over the newspaper taking this position was overshadowed by an overwhelming outpouring of community support for maintaining I-81’s existing route and highway designation. We’ve seen some really great points made in the days since, including:

  • Sandy Collins of Marcellus wrote in a letter to the editor: “I can’t imagine why anyone would think that a community grid would bring more people downtown.  If anything, it would be a deterrence to have to maneuver all that traffic. And shunting travelers way around Interstate 481 would definitely send them far from the city, with no incentive to get off the highway and spend some money in our community.”
  • Jim Stelter of Syracuse correctly noted in a letter to the editor: “We cannot expect our existing DPW to maintain a grid system designed to move traffic smoothly and efficiently through the downtown and uptown neighborhoods.  It will not happen.  Nineteenth century technology in the 21st century will not work.”
  • Neil Battelle of Syracuse wrote in his letter to the editor: “The right solution is to rebuild and improve the highway right where it is.  The community grid will just become the community gridlock.  The grid will not restore the neighborhood it displaced.  Remember how the “Connective Corridor” was going to magically connect everyone? It didn’t connect anyone, it’s still just Genesee Street.”

It’s important that people continue to make their voices heard about the need to maintain a high-speed route through Syracuse.

Save 81 certainly has not stayed silent of late. We put up our first billboard along I-690 to reach the drivers who know best the importance of convenient travel into, out of, and through Syracuse.

Fellow supporters of maintaining Interstate 81’s existing route also have been been making their voices heard:

  • Sen. John DeFrancisco wrote in the Post-Standard: “The point I’ve made repeatedly over the years since I-81 has been discussed is that we need to maintain a north-south Interstate 81 to continue a viable transportation pattern for the movement of people and products. If the viaduct is going to be knocked down, this traffic pattern has to be replaced with a high-speed alternative, either a tunnel or depressed highway.” Read more here.
  • The Watertown Daily Times followed up with an editorial: “While the hybrid/tunnel option is the most expensive, Mr. DeFrancisco correctly points out that it’s a solid investment for the next 60 to 75 years. Our community leaders need to make the case that this alternative will simultaneously serve both the people of Syracuse and the north country the best. The state cannot retreat from the most sensible way forward, and we cannot allow the strong voice of support on this issue to diminish with Mr. DeFrancisco’s retirement.” Read more here.