It's not hard to get Pat Fahy excited about the prospect of overhauling Albany's Interstate 787 to become more friendly to pedestrians and connect the city to the Hudson River. 

More than half a century ago, Albany's version of the beltway was built as a way of getting people to the city's downtown. But the north-south biway cut off access to Albany's riverfront, and the entertainment district downtown can be, at times, vacant on weekends.  

"To me, the economic development opportunities would immediately help transform while we tackle so much more of this highway," Fahy said. "Right now, you can throw a stone Pearl Street and Broadway on the weekends. We just don't have the foot traffic." 

The Democratic member of the state Assembly wants to re-imagine the highway, potentially with a land bridge of green space that can double as a park, or even a residential neighborhood. 

Across upstate New York, officials are considering ways of dismantling old highways, once seen as crucial for getting people to downtowns in cars, but are now deemed eyesores that have also made racial inequalities in housing and health even worse.

In Syracuse, officials are considering plans for taking down I-81. In Buffalo, planners are grappling with the Kensington Expressway, which critics say has created racial inequiities in the city. 

It's a similar idea that's been seen in other cities around the country as President Joe Biden and Congress work out the details of a major infrastructure package. 

"Federal funding is essential. It's absolutely essential," Fahy said. "This is not something the state can do on its own by any means. However, if you do this in chunks, it makes it more do-able."

A 787 overhaul is a few years off, though planners say the highway itself has a lifespan that could last only another 15 years. Fahy wants to create more venues around the area, including a children's museum. 

"We know it is styming our economic development efforts here in Albany and throughout the country in so many of our urban areas," she said. "It's why you're seeing Buffalo do this and Rochester do this and so many others."