How safe is 81?

I know a lot of people would like to see Route 81’s overpasses demolished rather than have it continue to cut through the heart of downtown Syracuse… but I think most people would prefer that they not be demolished with cars driving on top of them (and people walking, and living, beneath them). Wednesday’s collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis reminded one of the Schoharie Creek Bridge collapse on the Thruway 20 years ago, where 10 people died. (And, more recently, the deaths on I-88 due to a collapsed culvert in last year’s floods.) In Cayuga County, a bridge to Haiti Island (a rural community analogous to Jacks Reef) collapsed last weekend.

I don’t know how safe 81 is, but it would be nice to get some reassurances. In New York State, 2,110 are listed by the federal government as “structurally deficient” while 4,501 are “functionally obsolete.” There are probably around 20,000 bridges in the state whose condition is tracked.

Updated: According to today’s PS, Route 81’s local overpasses just underwent a major upgrade. (Since I drive by these overpasses every day, you’d think I would have known that… oh well.) But check this out. It’s a county-by-county map of deficient bridges across the U.S., circa 1994.

I don’t know whether to laugh, or let out a bloodcurdling scream. One hopes the map is way out of date.

4 Replies to “How safe is 81?”

  1. This is the kind of dry and unglamourous business that we should be able to pay a state government bureaucracy to diligently track, and to advocate expenditure as appropriate. Other cities around the world have, at times, managed to do so.

    However, there is no leadership in that direction in this Governor. I had really hoped that “reform” would mean more and better responsible technocrats in the governmental structure, and fewer political operatives, with jobs in “spinning” and “getting the goods on the other guy” (oh- and “being the relative or friend of a big campaign contributor”).

  2. It is likely the information you are wondering about is public information. If you want to know about the condition of the bridges, why not just ask the NY DOT for the information? Maybe mention to them that you can do a Freedom of Information Act form if needed.

    Also, drive 81S of Cortland to see another problem bridge over the Hoxie Gorge. This area has seen alot of bridge work in recent years. It is the third highest bridge in New York (or was a decade or so ago). In 1990, the bridge was closed for a year or so because it was too dangerous. Everytime I drive over it, I think how trusting we all have to be of our public officials.

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