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Politics & Government

Schumer Calls for Agreement on I-81 Before Federal Funding is Claimed by Other Projects

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New York Department of Transportation

Senator Chuck Schumer is calling for Central New York leaders to arrive at an agreement soon for what will replace the I-81 viaduct.  He’s working to secure about a billion dollars in grant funding through a federal program called New Starts designed for large, new projects.  City, county, and town leaders remain divided about a community grid or grid-tunnel combination, however. 

Schumer says he’s committed to pushing hard for the money, but worries the region could miss out.

 “We need some unity here. We need the mayor, the county executive, the local officials whose jurisdiction I-81 goes through to come to an agreement, because the competition is fierce.  Now, I have some clout in the Senate and I can give Central New York’s application a little muscle, but if there’s division we’re not going to get it.  Some other area will get it.”

There is a local share, but Schumer says it’s small.  He maintains his neutrality in the debate.

“I don’t believe, in any of these situations, that I should tell Central New York what to do. They ought to come up with it and then I get the money. That’s my job.”

The state is expected to issue its long-awaited decision on the future of I-81 very soon.