A recent Salon article asks a question highly relevant to – and periodically debated without resolution in – Albany: Should downtown freeways be demolished, rather than rebuilt, at the end of their life cycle? My opinion as to 787 is yes, but I see many arguments for no: 1. In a market dominated by suburban office parks, the last thing Albany needs is for it to be (in perception or reality) harder for commuters to get to; 2. it would moot the multi-million dollar pedestrian bridge connecting downtown with the river; 3. unlike in larger cities, Albany does not have the ability to accommodate displaced motorists on public transit.
On the other hand, demolishing an appropriate part of 787 (burying it probably would be cost-prohibitive) would open up a lot of land for development, some attractive for residential use, which downtown Albany desperately needs. It would render the river and Corning Preserve more accessible, possibly prompting expansion and upgrades. It might be a first step toward a more sustainable, less auto-dependent city.