Revolutionary Road (the blog)

Posted: April 16, 2009 by KatiePunkin in SAGE -- editor's picks
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The Wall of Syracuse

The Wall of Syracuse

This month’s (April) issue of Jerk features a story by Kate Pennington on I-81’s future and it’s past. We here at the Jerk Blog would like to give you an opportunity to discuss the future of I-81 and how you think the city of Syracuse should handle the raised highway.

Here are the three options of the future of I-81 that did not make it into the magazine’s online post. They can be found printed in the April 2009 issue of Jerk and here.

The Re-Do

Put it back up! But it’s not as easy as it sounds. Since the configuration of I-81 in 1964, a lot has changed in highway construction. There are more people, and consequently more (and bigger) cars on the road. The Interstate will need to be widened with new access ramps and a whole slew of other construction changes to accommodate today’s fast-paced world.

Urban Boulevard

This concept relocates I-81 through-traffic to I-481, with corresponding improvements to the junctions of those routes. A Rodeo Drive in Syracuse would require a reconfiguration of the Almond Street corridor with fewer lanes and some streetscape improvements. This concept would increase pedestrian and bicycle traffic between downtown and the Hill with tree-lined streets and parks.

Central Park

Syracuse architect Steve Buechner’s baby. Buechner proposed replacing I-81 with an underground highway in a tunnel capped by an urban park of about 30 acres. The park would include a small pond, walking trails, picnic shelters, carousel, and children’s play area. “It would encourage people to buy land and build business around it,” Buechner explained.

Please leave your comments and thoughts and we look forward to a fruitful discussion.

–The Jerks

  1. […] the Jerk Magazine Blog to discuss your thoughts on […]

  2. Julia says:

    Personally, I’m a fan of the boulevard idea — as long as it were easy for pedestrians to cross. Beuchner’s idea might be a great alternative as well,though…to have a great outdoor area for students, employees, and residents of area neighborhoods to go with the buzz of traffic pushed underground. I’m interested to see how research on these different ideas develops.

    Anything but another overpass, if I had a say.

  3. Kate says:

    I prefer the boulevard idea over the central park idea because parks tend to get creepy at night, ya know? So because of that, once the suns goes down, the area would be vacant. With the boulevard though, cars could continue to pass through and sidewalks can be used, both of these things making traffic continue at all hours in the area. This will be important for perspective businesses and people looking to move to the area.

  4. Liam says:

    I’m all for the park – they did it in Boston (the infamous Big Dig) and it looks great now, really adds something nice to the city. Granted, the Big Dig sucked – whole parts of the city were torn up for 10-15 years, but it was a bigger project than this would be, and I don’t you’d see the same levels of corruption in Syracuse. A boulevard would be better than the elevated highway for sure, but it’s still not very conducive to pedestrian traffic.

  5. Kate says:

    I like the idea of the park sort of combined with a boulevard. The park could be lined on either side with streets and sidewalks thereby eliminating the creep factor at night because you could walk alongside it where there is a lot of traffic, instead of through it where the Big Bad Wolf lurks.

  6. Kate says:

    Yet I love the ability to drive over the city to easily get where I want rather than driving through it and going through traffic lights. So I’m torn between my selfish desire to drive fast and get places quickly AND my desire to want to walk within the city. I do think that the overpass probably detracts people from actually visiting Syracuse because you can go right through the city, from Watertown to Ithaca, without actually seeing the shops etc.

  7. Liam says:

    That’s why it makes sense to bury it – no city-carving overpass, no extra traffic or pedestrian problems. Not all parks are stuffed with creepers…in fact 99.9% of the time, parks are a positive thing. They have lights to deter that sort of thing…

  8. Kate says:

    99.9% of the time, eh? That’s a pretty high statistic… 😉

    I agree that the boulevard would slow down traffic, which is something that has to be considered…but for 50 years people have just whizzed by Syracuse. Now, I think it is time to stop by and spend some time in the city. When people have to physically drive through it, it forces them to stop and take a look…

  9. Zac says:

    I’m not so sure the boulevard will work. Here’s two reasons:

    1) There’s not much to look at around Almond Street, even if you take out I-81. Putting up a few trees and bike paths isn’t gonna be enough. They’d have to sink a significant amount of cash into renovating and developing the area along Almond to make it commercially or residentially attractive.

    2) Directing I-81 traffic thru downtown will require reduced speeds. Eventually drivers will catch on, and bypass Syracuse altogether by using I-481.

    So I think an underground highway with a park would be best. It will be expensive, but worthwhile. Plus, that park could become a major meeting point for the University and the City.

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