Tear Down the Structural Racism of I-81

Act Now

More than 50 years ago, Interstate 81 ripped through a working-class Black neighborhood in Syracuse. It displaced long-time residents and ensured that poverty, pollution, and a lack of resources would hurt the community that lived in the highway's shadow. These problems persist today.

Removing the I-81 viaduct is a great first step toward racial justice, but more must be done.

TAKE ACTION: We need environmental, racial, and economic justice to ensure the fair and equitable treatment of community members who live in the shadow of the viaduct.

Message Recipients:
NYS Department of Transportation
Syracuse Zoning Office

Map of I-81
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The removal of the I-81 viaduct must be conducted with environmental, racial, and economic justice at the forefront to ensure the fair and equitable treatment of community members who live in the shadow of the highway. To do this, the NYS Department of Transportation must:

● Reserve and transfer the four acres of land to the City of Syracuse adjacent to STEAM at Dr. King Elementary School with a contingency that the land must be developed into a community land trust, and provide resources, oversight, and development by residents living adjacent to I-81 viaduct.

● Protect residents by conducting a health needs assessment to determine who is best suited to be relocated due to the fugitive dust and hazards of construction. A health care access center must be placed within walking distance to Martin Luther King W. The State DOT must also ensure there are independent monitors of daily air quality, lead exposure, and compliance with federal regulations.

● Conduct testing of the raised viaduct prior to demolition, to assess health risks from leaded paint, leaded gasoline, and housing dust. The State DOT should implement stronger safety standards to protect residents from fugitive dust. This should include requiring construction contractors to provide higher levels of protection for residents, and supplying residents with lead-resistant abatement technology.

● Reduce the speed limit for the business loop to 20 miles per hour in and around STEAM at Dr. King Elementary School and within 50 feet of residential neighborhoods.

These recommendations are crucial to righting a historic wrong and creating more equitable outcomes for the entire Syracuse region.


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