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Update on I-81 Replacement: A Decision Still upto a Year Off, Information Meetings Next Month

Frank Moses/FOCUS

  Syracuse residents got a chance to get an update on the options to replace the elevated portion of Interstate 81 today from one of the key figures who will decide.  Former Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll is now the Commissioner of the State Department of Transportation and he spoke at a forum hosted by FOCUS Greater Syracuse. 

Let’s be clear…we’re still a ways away from answering the big question:  what’s the new design?.

“I recognize people are anxious about a decision, but that decision is not going to take place until 2017.  So in the meantime we continue to engage; we continue to inform, said Driscoll”

And more information is on tap.  Driscoll says there will be a series of meetings in June  about the right of way.  As you may know, properties adjacent to the current highway could be right in the way of a replacement…depending on the option…and a federal requirement to broaden the roadway and straighten its path.

Credit Frank Moses/FOCUS /
NYS Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll (L) repeated that public input remains important in the decision process about I-81's future.

  “We don’t know what those properties, who they are at this point, but what we’ll be doing is we’ll be handing out information about our program, our policies, what we offer impacted properties in terms of assistance.  So I think that will be very beneficial.” 

Driscoll does reassure residents that their input has and continues to shape the project … and the decision making.  He’s considering suggestions about transportation beyond just the interstate traffic.

“In all three options that is already a key component.  We want to make sure we’re working closely with CENTRO; we have a great opportunity to connect to, in the downtown Syracuse area, the Connective Corridor, which is in place.  Whatever variation we ultimately determine, pedestrian, bicycle use, and that kind of mobility issue will be a big part of the project.”

Driscoll’s careful to, shall we say, manage expectations.  A drafter environmental impact statement is due this year…but the final option and more community input will stretch well into next.