DeFrancisco: High-speed route must remain in Syracuse

State Sen. John DeFrancisco has penned a letter to the editor on that makes the case for maintaining a high-speed route through Syracuse as the state considers the best way to rebuild Interstate 81.

He writes:

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.

The writer asked whether I knew that most tunnel projects would require a venting system. Of course, I knew, as did the engineers the governor hired to study the viability of the tunnel option, and they determined that a short tunnel could be constructed. That was no great surprise, since tunnels much longer than the 1.2-mile tunnel proposed in Syracuse are found all over the world.

The hybrid option called for either a tunnel or a depressed highway, together with a community grid, rather than a community grid alone. Either a tunnel or a depressed highway would keep north-south traffic moving, which is far superior to the community grid(lock) alone proposal. There is no need to speculate about whether a depressed highway is feasible, since you only need to drive on Interstate 81 now, as it goes through the North Side of Syracuse, to see one.

So the hybrid option can be done, and if it costs more to have the efficient movement of people and products, then so be it, since the investment will be for 60 to 75 years. No one complains about the astronomical costs for road, bridge and tunnel projects that are routine in the New York City metropolitan area. After all, we’re not second-class citizens in Central New York.