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Rep. Katko Encourages Constituents To Take Advantage Of I-81 Public Comment Period

destiny view.jpg
New York State Department of Transportation
I-81 Viaduct Project Visual Impact Assessment
This is a rendering done by the state DOT looking north toward Destiny USA under the proposed Community Grid option.

Syracuse-area Congressmember John Katko is encouraging all those with concerns about the upcoming Interstate 81 project to make their opinions known during the public comment period. The New York State DOT released it’s final draft environmental impact statement last week and reaffirmed the decision to move forward with the Community Grid option. While many in the Syracuse have voiced their support of the grid, some in the suburbs have voiced concerns about travel time and economic impact. Representative Katko said it’s not just a project for Syracuse.

“It’s definitely a regional product, and it has to be considered as such,” said Katko. “I mean, whatever they do is going to impact 481 of course and the interchanges along 481. It’s also going to impact the southern towns and the western towns and the roads between the two. And the interchanges up north in Salina, and economically it’s going to have an impact. So all those things have to be taken into consideration.”

The final DEIS for the I-81 project did examine potential changes beyond the city. For instance, they found there would be an estimated decrease of 1.3% in revenue for hotels north of the city, and travel times would vary by no more than a 5 minutes along the county’s most popular routes. Katko said if there are people who are dissatisfied with the final DEIS, they have to take advantage of the public comment period.

“Speak up. Speak up loudly. Speak up frequently. Make your voices heard because if your voices are heard, your concerns will likely be, much more likely be addressed. And that’s what they have to do,” said Katko.

Modifications could be made to the project because of public comments. As the community continues to provide input, Katko said he is making sure the final plan has the federal funding it needs.

“There’s not going to be money issues because that was my job to make sure we delivered it and we delivered it a lot. We’re going to deliver highway funding. So there’s going to be funding for the project,” said Katko.

The project is expected to cost more than $2 billion. Comments are being accepted by the state DOT through September 14th at 5 pm. There are number of ways to submit comments…including via email, an online form, voicemail, and by mail. The details on how to submit any of those ways can be found at

Katie Zilcosky is WAER’s All Things Considered host and features reporter. She also co-hosts WAER’s public affairs show Syracuse Speaks. As a reporter, she focuses on technology, economy, and identity.
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.