After 10 years of community meetings, studies, and fierce debate, the New York State DOT has chosen the “community grid” as the preferred alternative for I-81 through Syracuse. The elevated viaduct had reached the end of its useful life and did not meet modern standards for an interstate. Instead of an elevated viaduct, the corridor will become an urban boulevard connected to local streets. Syracuse is not the first city to see an elevated freeway come down, and it likely will not be the last, including in the state. New York will soon have to make a decision on what to do about the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
The New York State DOT, the city, and the MPO have been working collaboratively for several years to develop alternatives for the replacement of the I-81 viaduct. There is agreement that something must be done about the 1.4-mile long, elevated segment of I-81 cutting through the city, but what to build in its place has not been decided. NYSDOT’s alternatives for this project will be out soon and will be included in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. In anticipation of this step some stakeholders are making their priorities known.
Michigan DOT and Detroit residents are not alone in considering alternatives for an elevated urban highway. On June 23, New York State DOT officials released six possible options to replace the aging I-81 viaduct in Syracuse. The highway has been the subject of intense debate for years, with users, community residents, business groups, and elected officials favoring everything from a tunnel to a street-level boulevard. The only thing everyone agrees on is that the road in its current form is reaching the end of its life.
New York Governor Cuomo recently called on the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority to look strategically at developing a climate-change ready and resilient transit system that will benefit the New York metro region. Amtrak’s tunnels under the Hudson River are another key piece of the metro region’s transit system. These tunnels, which flooded during Superstorm Sandy and sustained significant damage, are susceptible to future storm damage, but plans for maintenance and capacity expansion are uncertain.
Following two widely publicized incidents of waiting passengers being pushed into the path of oncoming subway trains, the Transit Workers Union has directed its subway train operators to slow trains to 10 mph when entering station areas to enable them to stop if riders are on the tracks. This and other solutions to accidental and intentional falls onto tracks are being examined in New York and cities around the world.
Stockholm’s congestion pricing system is a continuing success six years after its initial implementation. Congestion charges in other cities around the world have also gained increased public support after initial resistance. In the U.S. no city has yet implemented a congestion charge, although the idea has been discussed in New York and Boston, with mixed reactions.