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Congressmember Dan Maffei weighs in on I-81 debate

The I-81 Challenge

The future of Interstate 81 remains uncertain after Congressmember Dan Maffei offered his thoughts on what options should be considered.  With traffic rumbling by on the highway nearby, Maffei says neither an identical highway nor “Erie Boulevard” type of road is a smart decision.  He says  Central New York deserves better...

“We need to make sure that this decision is not made by bureaucrats in Albany or Washington, but by citizens right here in Central New York. One of the things they keep on telling us is the key thing that they want, is to make sure that the barrier is taken down. You connect the university area with its development and downtown.”

Maffei has also heard that businesses are concerned with how traffic flow will be affected.  Syracuse Common Council President Van Robinson agrees that the opinions of citizens of all income classes must be considered during this important decision making process.

“Anything that we decide today will have to last between 50 and 100 years. Now 100 years down the road, I would not want our descendants looking back and saying, ‘what kind of idiots were they to do this to us’.”

While change is inevitable, Maffei says he plans to be in constant contact with the Federal Highway Administration to examine what other cities have done and generate more creative options for a proper plan to reconstruct Central New York’s only north-south highway. 

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at