Syracuse: Tearing Down the Viaduct is No Easy Task
More than just a physical barrier, the Viaduct, as the aging, elevated freeway is known locally, is an economic, social and racial barrier.
Seward takes Siegel to one of New York's first public housing projects, the low-rise Pioneer Homes. Constructing I-81 "gutted this predominantly African-American neighborhood." Seward interviews 40-year resident Hazel Miller who lives 100 ft. from the freeway, tractor-trailer trucks are heard in the distance.
"Syracuse Common Council President Van Robinson says replacing the viaduct with a street-level boulevard would breathe life into the city's withered urban core. He has long seen the viaduct as a barrier that separates the haves from the have-nots."
"The state's transportation department is in the early stages of a planning process called the I-81 Challenge. Planners recently gauged public opinion on three basic options":
- Keep the viaduct and update it to current standards
- Tear it down and build a sunken roadway
- Tear it down and build a boulevard
Yet, as a testament to the difficulty of making any kind of change, what does Hazel Miller have to say about these choices?
"She would rather keep the viaduct as is. Miller is not confident that what might come next will be any better."
"I don't know how wide that [proposed] boulevard is going to be, but I know [there] wouldn't be as many tractor-trailer trucks and stuff like that going over," she says.