Syracuse Highways: A Brief Historical Overview




Planning studies for the arterial roadway network in and around Syracuse started in 1942, when the New York State Legislature authorized construction of the Thruway. By 1947, the New York State Department of Public Works, predecessor of the Department of Transportation, issued a report on existing and proposed arterial routes in the Syracuse urban area. This report included recommendations for improving local traffic operations and for providing access to the Thruway. Also, the City of Syracuse prepared a 1959 General Plan that included recommendations for long range transportation improvements.

The 1947 study recommended construction of several Thruway interchanges, north-south and east-west roadways, a relocated Route 5 between the western suburbs and City of Syracuse and a central arterial system in downtown Syracuse (Center Loop). The 1959 report also recommended major east-west and north-south routes, the Route 5 relocation and limited access highways from the southern city line to and around the eastern and western suburbs.

Most of the recommendations included in these reports were constructed. The new north-south route became Interstate Route 81, the east-west route is now Interstate Route 690 and I-481 around the eastern suburbs connects I-81, I-690 and the Thruway. Thruway interchanges were constructed at I-690, County Route 57, Electronics Parkway, I-81, Carrier Circle and I-481. The downtown central arterial system was constructed and includes West, Adams and Townsend Streets along with portions of Seymour and Shonnard Streets.

Major unbuilt roadways are relocated Route 5 and the expressway around the western suburbs. Relocated Route 5 would have provided an expressway type facility between the Hamlet of Fairmount and the City's central arterial system. Starting in Fairmount, this facility would have continued southeasterly around the Village of Solvay to a connection with the Center Loop at Seymour and Shonnard Streets via a widened Grand Avenue. The expressway around the western suburbs would have linked Relocated Route 5 to I-81 with new interchanges at Route 5, Route 175 and I-81 at the southern city line.

In addition to the above studies, the Department of Transportation considered building a new roadway from the existing I-690/I-481 interchange to Chittenango. This roadway, known as Relocated Route 5, was never constructed. In the late 1980's, we evaluated a smaller scale project to provide a 4-lane road between the I-690/I-481 interchange and the Route 257/Route 290 intersection in Manlius Center. This project was dropped from further consideration due to engineering, social, economic and environmental impacts.

Thanks to George Doucette of NYSDOT for providing me with the information I requested about this.