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Group of Businesses, Elected Officials Wants To Save The I-81 Bridge

John Smith/WAER News

Getting around Downtown Syracuse seemed a little challenging this morning because of the Interstate 81 South closure at Harrison Street.  A local group of business owners, elected officials and community members say it might be a vision of the future. 

The deadline to replace the I-81 overpass at the end of its useful life is could result in street-level traffic if the bridge portion is removed.  Members of Save want the State D-O-T to keep the highway through downtown.  Onondaga County Legislator Kathy Rapp is also a member of the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“I want to ensure that I-81 decision makers in Albany hear the voices of the residents here and are concerned about what the consequences may be.  That’s why I’m here today in support of Save I-81 dot org.”

Rapp adds the State D-O-T informed her yesterday that they’re planning plan to provide plenty of opportunity for community input on the project. 


For businesses south of the I-81 closure at Harrison Street, the prospects of not having the highway through the city is already a bit surreal.  Jim Bright... the Owner of Dunk & Bright Furniture on South Salina Street speaks from experience.

“Traffic is about 15 percent this week versus last week when the highway was open.  We have a lot of slow traffic in front of our store, which is interesting because the traffic is rerouted right to Salina and Brighton, but not all of those people are coming in, of course."

The members of Save I-81 plan to host several events in the months ahead to serve as a voice for the community’s throughout the city and Onondaga County.  Their website is Save 81 dot org.


Robert Andrews          Onondaga County Legislator, 9th district
Mark Atkinson            Mayor, Village of North Syracuse
Jim Bright                    Dunk and Bright
Todd Buchko               WonderWorks
Michael Chapman        Chairman, Cayuga County Legislature
Jim Corl                       Supervisor, Town of Cicero
Patrick Danial              Terakeet
John Dougherty           Onondaga County Legislator, 2nd district
Joseph Emmi               Super 8 Syracuse
Marc Emmi                  Hampton Inn Liverpool
Carmen Emmi, Jr         Homewood Suites
Joe Falcone                  Dominick Falcone Insurance
Deborah Gallagher       North Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps (NAVAC)
Jim Gallagher               Holiday Inn
T-John Goodman         Sweet on Chocolate, Armory Square
Holland C Gregg III     Executive Director, Citizens to Preserve the Character of Skaneateles (CPCS)
Gary Hatfield               Supervisor, Town of Moravia
Jeff Herrick                  Supervisor, Town of Sennett
David Heymann           Sheraton Syracuse
Steve Hughes               Tim Hortons
Bruce Kenan                Destiny USA
David Knapp               Onondaga County Legislator, 12th district
Michael Lazar              Chaiman, Town of DeWitt Planning Board
Danny Liedka              Onondaga County Legislator, 7th district
Tony Mangano            Ramada Inn
Kerry Mannion            Member, Town of DeWitt Town Board
Brian May                   Onondaga County Legislator, 1st district
Gary May                    May's Auto
Todd May                   Southern Wine and Spirits
Ryan McMahon          Chairman, Onondaga County Legislature, 15th district
Ed Michalenko             Supervisor, Town of DeWitt
Mark Nicotra               Supervisor, Town of Salina
Michael Plochocki       Onondaga County Legislator, 6th District
Kathleen Rapp             Onondaga County Legislator, 5th district
Teresa Roney               Supervisor, Town of Skaneateles
Christopher Ryan        Onondaga County Legislator, 8th District
Gary Searing                Supervisor, Town of Fleming
John Sposato               Sposato Companies
Richard Sykes              The Inns at Armory Square
Ann Marie Taliercio    UniteHERE 150
Judy Tassone               Onondaga County Legislator, 4th district
Ed Wagner                    Supervisor, Town of Owasco
Gary White                  Mayor, Village of Liverpool
Steve White                  Citizens to Preserve the Character of Skaneateles (CPCS)

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.