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November 2013

Behold (above) the wished-for outcome of a project that would turn the Interstate 81 elevated freeway that runs through the heart of Syracuse, New York, into a surface boulevard.

Syracuse Blvd
     Behold (above) the wished-for outcome of a project that would turn the Interstate 81 elevated freeway that runs through the heart of Syracuse, New York, into a surface boulevard. The detailing is excellent. Good relationships between the urban building frontages and the broad sidewalks. Generous medians with good formal plantings of street trees. Moderate-width carriageways that will discipline the speed of cars. The original intention was darn good.
     Now look (below) at the engineered rendering by the design contractor, Stantec, Inc., an international traffic engineering company. It raises the question, why bother? This is not a real pedestrian environment. This is a nightmare of entropy-made-visible. These idiots should be ashamed of themselves. The city of Syracuse should be ashamed of hiring them. The proposal has turned into a sick joke, and the joke is on Syracuse, New York. I don’t hear anybody laughing.

Syracuse I-81 Project

About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency and the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

10 Responses to “November 2013”

  1. hiruitnguyse November 3, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

    Asphalt Football Field in Centre goes well with Flat Concrete slab roof on right.

  2. Greyghost November 4, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    At least they had the presence of mind to put in a 2 way bike path.

    • EduardoFojo November 7, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

      Unfortunately, the bike lanes are both on the same side of the street, which is a bit inconvenient for bike riders needing to stop somewhere on the opposite side of the street. I also notice that plan B has one of the (in my opinion) worst design features of our times: the unnecessary block-long plot of grass between the sidewalk and the street. Okay, so the rest of the design makes crossing (or should I say jaywalking?) at the middle of the block virtually impossible and probably suicidal, but people do sometimes need to get from a to b without having to walk to a crosswalk and then double back. The trees are enough – why add the grass as yet another obstacle for pedestrians?

  3. Alex Pline November 4, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

    That’s likely the only way they ever got it approved. While I am a cyclist and I like the separated infrastructure, it’s just throwing a bone so they can keep their 6 laner monstrosity.

  4. Karah November 4, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

    The artist forgot to insert in the empty 4 way intersection space the words:


  5. alka November 5, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    I know you are against conspiracy theories, but it really does seem that there is a league of evil planners out there hell bent on destroying America.

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  6. swhite November 19, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    The picture of the desired outcome is almost exactly like a street in Paris shown by Andres Duany in a nine-part youtube video about urban design. It has the wide sidewalks, the lanes for slower motor traffic, the lanes for faster motor traffic, space in the middle to stop if one can’t get across the street in one shot, etc. Someone has been paying attention. Now if that video could just get to the city planners.

    I also notice a personal gut reaction against the second picture. I’m not sure why. I think it’s the image of nothing to do on that street but to get off it as soon as possible. There appears to be nothing there but big office buildings set way back from the street, and parking lots. One might conceivable stroll down the first street. On the second, with six lanes of high-speed car traffic, a walk along the street would not be pleasant. The noise alone would keep people away.

  7. seckhoff November 21, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    It’s just heartbreaking and insulting, as if the planners were saying, “You think you had a chance at having a decent day or a pleasant time doing the stuff you have to do? Well, it’s never going to happen. We took care of that. Things are going to be ugly for you. And that is your life.”

  8. KK December 3, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    The level of vocal (at least) opposition to anything different than the existing highway is pretty impressive. Yet, the existing route/approach is not replicable (too curvy, too many buildings, massive amounts of steel in a salt heavy environment). What a massive failure of imagination.

  9. nrgmiserncaz1 February 20, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    I don’t think it’s likely that you’ll see either version. Both would be improvements over the elevated expressway we have now that cuts the city in half and makes walking underneath I-81 a truly courageous feat. The real question would be whether interstates, as they were conceived and are currently used, going to be sustainable over the next 30-50 years?