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One of Final I-81 Public Meetings Tonight at CNS High; Chance to Learn Details, Share Concerns to Shape Project

i-81 new deis.jpg
Residents can learn about, comment on plans to replace the elevated portion of I-81 through Syracuse. Seen here, artist's rendering of Community Grid option, the leading plan of transportation officials.

The conversation – and debate – over the future of Interstate 81 through Syracuse continues tonight at one of the final meetings to gather public comment. New York State Transportation Department Project Director Mark Frechette calls it a very good conversation over the previous seven meetings in different locations, with people focused on concerns related to their areas.

“When we were out at Fayetteville, people were very interested in Route 5 and 92, out in front of Wegmans and the work that got added to the project related to exit 3 (off of I-481).  We also were at Dr. King Elementary School and roundabouts came up, concern over the location of the roundabout.”

He assures the public that each of these meetings gives the DOT information that can lead to changes in the overall project. In fact, he estimates thousands of comments have come in that will lead to improvements in the two alternatives being considered. Frechette continues to hear concerns at the various meetings over whether travel to work or school or shopping will take longer.

“Travel times are not dramatically changing for people who are coming in from the North or the West or the East side of the city.  There is a few-minutes difference for people coming up from the South, going through the city on the Community Grid.”

(More information on the project and how to make public comments here)

He says education about all aspects of the process is a purpose of these meetings, as well as gathering concerns and other feedback. Tonight’s meeting is at Cicero-North Syracuse High School starting at 6:00 p.m. One more meeting was added – in Camillus September 23rd. The entire public comment period runs until October 14th.

Frechette knows many people might not come to public meetings because of COVID or other circumstances. He says the DOT's I-81 Opportunities website has information, a virtual tour of the plans, and ways in which to offer comments.