I81 Boulevard Option

It would serve well beyond "beautification".
Post-Standard Letter (published May 27, 2013).

May 23, 2013

To the Editor:

I strongly recommend the boulevard option for I81 redevelopment. "Beautification" is not the main point; it is what results from it. The boulevard option will open new space for economic development, turn many low-value properties into prime real estate, draw more residents downtown, and increase the city's cultural vitality.

Highways focus traffic and create congestion in streets near the exits and on-ramps. This leads to creating arterials and one-way streets, such as Adams, West, Clinton, and Warren streets, to channel the congestion to/from the highway. The highway is not fast if it takes 10 minutes to get from the exit to a parking space. Removing the highway will diffuse traffic and reduce downtown congestion. Adams and West streets can then be returned to normal size and become attractive for development. The boulevard option will improve downtown traffic.

Bob Congel and some hotel owners worry they will lose business if they're no-longer adjacent to I81. This seems a misguided concern. These businesses will still have a highway to their doorstep from East, West, and North. And wake up to the 21st century; with smart phones and navigation tools, anyone passing through in search of a mall or hotel room will be fully aware of where to go.

If I81 is rerouted to I481, there will still be a fast road (old I81) reaching 7th North St. hotels and destiny usa. Perhaps Congel would like to see the road renamed to "Destiny Highway"? Surely, naming rights can be arranged---for $1 million or so.

Congel should know that he would benefit more from 30-50 thousand new residents in Syracuse (the city lost 70,000 residents since the viaduct was built) than nitpicking the details of how easily tourists may access destiny usa. A well-designed and appealing city with effective public transportation, new space for economic development, quality public schools, and throw in low-cost municipal power and low-cost community-owned broadband, is guaranteed to dramatically increase the population of Syracuse.

One major concern I have with the boulevard as envisioned is that it will appear too big and too fast, focusing traffic too much. I urge decision-makers to avoid creating a southern off-ramp that sends all traffic directly to a new large boulevard; it should instead direct vehicles to an east-west road that offers access to multiple, possibly upgraded, streets to diffuse traffic throughout the city street grid as early as possible.

Carlo Moneti
Syracuse, NY