Brookings: Syracuse could be “national leader” on transportation after I-81 project

Future of 81

Joseph Kane has family members who live in Syracuse, but that’s not the primary reason he’s paying attention to the I-81 project from Washington.

As a senior research associate and associate fellow with the Metropolitan Policy Program at The Brookings Institution, Kane is researching the I-81 debate and subsequent decision as a future model for the rest of the country.

In April, the New York State Department of Transportation released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which rules out the tunnel, suggests against a new elevated highway and endorses a community grid of city streets to replace the aging viaduct.

Kane published his analysis of the DOT’s preferred alternative in an article posted to The Brookings Institution’s website.

Kane writes, “Each decision they make—in terms of project design, public engagement, and economic development—will offer guidance to other regions.”

Following his article, Kane spoke with NewsChannel 9.

Kane says Syracuse will be a “model” or “template” for other cities in a similar situation. He says it’s not unique for a city to need to replace an elevated highway that cuts through an impoverished neighborhood, with people used to cars that are resistant to trying something new.

Kane argues that cities will look to Central New York and the Department of Transportation’s ultimate decision and its results, both the good and bad.

He says Syracuse will be viewed as a “national leader” on transportation after the process is over.

Kane commits to following the process as it continues.

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I-81 Resources: 

View the full New York State Department of Transportation DEIS report here. 

Click here for full renderings of the proposed community grid.

If you want to weigh in on the report, you can write comments to:

Mark Frechette, PE, Project Director

New York State Department of Transportation, Region 3

333 East Washington Street

Syracuse, NY 13202

You can email comments to

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