One more lane for Interstate-81, one less neighborhood for Syracuse

Pictured above is the Britton Block, located on the 300 block of North Salina Street it originally sat near the former Oswego Canal. The inscription on the building leads us to believe the building was built in 1891. Since then, the building has been home to countless Northside residents and businesses, including a wagon and sleigh store, a meat market, a candy company and a saloon.

Today, the future of this building is in jeopardy. As many are aware, the NYSDOT is considering two plans to update I-81 as it applies to Syracuse, either replacing the highway under new regulations or creating a community grid.

In addition, the NYSDOT has released details of the “common features” that would be included in either plan. Common features include building flyovers to connect I-690 and I-81, realigning the Butternut Street bridge and adding additional lanes north of I-690. All of which would repeat the same mistakes that negatively impacted the Southside of our city in the 1950s and 1960s, mistakes that continue to influence our city and residents today. 

Under the common features, an additional lane will be added to I-81 pictured on the left, impacting North Salina Street, on the right
Under the common features, an additional lane will be added to I-81 pictured on the left, negatively impacting North Salina Street, on the right and demolishing the building shown

If the highway does not stay within the current footprint, the Britton Block and countless other buildings in and near the Northside including the Learbury Centre and Mission Landing will soon be demolished. The highway will creep ever closer to the historic North Salina Street corridor creating an unwelcoming deadzone alongside the buildings lucky enough to remain. The loss of property, property tax and the isolation of a community will be irreversible.

To learn more about the common features, I urge you to watch the video below, “Repeating the Mistakes of the Past” by Doug Sutherland, created by Michael Stanton.

To help, the Northside Side Urban Partnership has asked residents to fill out this form and send it back to the NYSDOT. In the comment section, please deliver the following message: “The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) must include an alternative for the area north of I-690 without the missing link flyovers, without the additional lanes, and that maintains the direct connection between the Northside and Armory Square.”

It’s time we as a region put people before cars.