The Access Syracuse Plan


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Published 8/27/14. As of 4/28/15, components of the Access Syracuse Plan are being considered by the DOT as part of further analysis to determine if there is a tunnel alternative that meets the purpose and objectives of the I-81 project. remains committed to keeping I-81 as an interstate highway through Downtown Syracuse. It is our goal to maintain this crucial interstate designation, which is vital to the region’s economy and plays an important role in public safety and accessibility. believes that we need to choose an alternative that maintains and helps improve upon public safety, accessibility, and traffic flow into and out of the heart of our community.

To aid the DOT and the community in its search for the best solution to the Interstate 81 issue, has developed the Access Syracuse Plan. The Access Syracuse Plan is not the only solution that may work, but it is a solution for I-81 that believes may work best for our entire region and may be the consensus solution most Central New Yorkers have been looking for.

The Access Syracuse Plan calls for a tunnel-boulevard hybrid to replace the 1.4-mile viaduct that currently bisects the city. The tunnel and the boulevard compliment one another by addressing concerns over regional through traffic and the vitality of the city of Syracuse. This consensus solution would allow traffic to flow easily through the region and improve air quality.  It would also update the area’s transportation network to meet current standards and jumpstart the essential project of addressing the region’s infrastructure needs. The Access Syracuse Plan has the support of all of our legislators in Albany as well as numerous local business leaders and community members. Here’s a quick look at the facts:

– The Access Syracuse Plan would require less acquisition of land than any other alternative and would actually result in a net gain of land area.

– The Access Syracuse Plan would get rid of several flyover ramps, eliminating the enormous cost and enormous area of land that would come with building high-flying ramps at I-690. The Access Syracuse Plan would also improve the aesthetic appeal of the area by replacing the current elevated infrastructure with a landscaped boulevard and a hidden tunnel.

– The Access Syracuse Plan would maintain I-81’s crucial Interstate Highway status into and through the city, facilitating the smooth flow of traffic throughout the area, while at the same time providing room for growth in traffic volume, which is expected to continue to increase in the coming decades.

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Because it is a hybrid plan, along with maintaining the flow of interstate traffic through the region, the Access Syracuse Plan would preserve our city’s street grid. Unlike proposals from the DOT for boulevards and tunnels that would require the cut-off of six or more streets, the Access Syracuse Plan would only require the cut-off of one block of Water Street. Beyond preserving the city’s street grid, the Access Syracuse Plan would actually improve connectivity between University Hill and the downtown area.

Access Syracuse is also the best plan for pedestrians and bikers. A boulevard carrying light traffic can be readily designed to allow cars to move in harmony with them through the addition of sidewalks and bike lanes. Additionally, by diverting high-speed through traffic off of surface roads, the Access Syracuse Plan would create a safer environment for pedestrians, bicyclists and other drivers. And while a lightly trafficked boulevard would protect pedestrians and bikers, a tunnel would also protect public safety by ensuring emergency vehicles can get to hospitals quickly. The Access Syracuse Plan can be the consensus solution that will fit our region best.