The Octopus

Building Bridges - Traverse Tompkins

The Octopus

Ithaca, New York 14850, United States

Created By: Ithaca Heritage


The Octopus was first opened to traffic in June, 1968. The construction of the Flood Control Channel to alleviate repeated flooding in the Cayuga Inlet took four bridges from the city to West Hill and reduced them down to one. Originally Clinton Street, State Street, Seneca Street and Buffalo Street all spanned the Inlet, but the Flood Control Channel left only State Street, with Routes 79, 89, and 96 snaking up and away from the crossing like the limbs of an octopus. Problems with traffic congestion started almost immediately, and residents and members of local government chewed over possible solutions for years.

Finally, in 1995, a massive multi-million-dollar project began to untangle the Octopus bottleneck when New York State funded the reconstruction of critical access points connecting one side of Ithaca to the other. Divided into three stages, the Seneca Street bridge was the first to be restored. The second stage saw the replacement of the Buffalo Street bridge and the opening of a new Route 96 bridge. The third and final stage, completed in 1997, saw the reconstruction of the State Street bridge and the Route 79 bridge over the Flood Control Channel, and traffic and people have moved more freely through this heavily traveled area ever since.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Building Bridges - Traverse Tompkins


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