Community Grid Supporters Want to Get Voices Heard on I-81 Future

Jan 21, 2019

Supporters of the Community Grid option for replacing the I-81 viaduct hold meeting Tuesday at Temple Concord at 6:00 pm.
Credit WAER File Photo

Supporters of the Community grid option for the future of Interstate 81 thorugh downtown Syracuse don’t feel like their voices are being heard.  WAER’s Chris Bolt reports on a petition drive to try and get the ear of Albany on the crucial upcoming I-81 decision.

The raised portion of I-81 through Syracuse – called the viaduct – has been the topic of much debate.  Any consensus on the best option to replace it as it crumbles seems unlikely.

Among proposals to replace it with another elevated roadway, a community grid that eliminates the bridge section, or a combination of the grid plus a tunnel for some through traffic. 

Community Grid Info Mtg: Temple Concord, 1/22 @ 6:00 pm

Common Councilor Joe Driscoll says there’s a combination of misunderstanding and disinformation.

“There’s some groups out there that are really stirring up fear that this is going to be, ‘car-mageddon’ is what they call it, or ‘community grid-lock.’  When I listen to architects and engineers in the Department of Transportation, they tell me that that fear of ‘car-mageddon’ is far overblown, and that actually it won’t impact travel times that greatly.”

Just last week supervisors and other officials form just about every town in Onondaga County came out against a grid-only solution.  In addition to longer commutes into the city, their worries include more traffic being diverted around the city into their towns, and negative impacts on businesses along the current 81 corridor.  Mayor Ben Walsh has been steadfastly in favor of the Community Grid option to remove a barrier that has divided the city, and to create areas for positive development that might impact poverty.  The Common Council already passed a resolution in favor of the community grid. 

Driscoll says details will be clearer on all options once an environmental impact statement comes out.  The state report will detail environmental, economic and social impacts of each option. 

“If you talk to a lot of people engaged in the city, they say it’s the most important (decision) we’ll face in our lifetimes.  I think it’s not the silver bullet; it won’t be the silver bullet, but I think it will be one large step in a larger effort to reintegrate this community.” 

Driscoll and others have a petition on line at which they hope raises the voices of supporters.   The group is holding an educational meeting Tuesday night at Temple Concord, 910 Madison St, Syracuse, NY 13210, starting at 6:00 pm.