Freeways have been constructed through the downtowns of many cities across the United States. Many of these highways were constructed in the 1960s or 1970s, and were intended to ensure economic viability in an era when suburban growth, along with car ownership and use, was accelerating. It was feared that without the direct connections that highways provided, cities would die. At the time, there were differing opinions about the decisions to locate highways through the centers of cities; in hindsight, there are decidedly mixed conclusions as to whether the highways have done more harm or good. Many of these urban freeways are now more than fifty years old and are in need of major investment.
As part of The I-81 Challenge, a case studies report was written which tells the stories of some of the other cities and regions that have faced challenges comparable to that of Syracuse and the I-81 corridor. All of the cases included in the report involve the major reconstruction or reconfiguration of an urban limited access highway. Some are completed projects, and others are in various stages of planning and public discussion. They offer a wide array of options for consideration as we begin to explore possibilities for the future of I-81. Common outcomes include:
- Reconstruct an elevated highway
- Bury the highway
- Depress the highway
- Relocate the highway
- Remove the highway and replace with a boulevard
To download the full report, see the Resources box. To access individual case studies click here.
Photo courtesy of WSDOT via Flickr Creative Commons.