Scott Willis / WAER-FM 88.3

The towns likely to be most affected by the state’s community grid recommendation for I-81 will have a chance to express their concerns to the DOT on their home turf Wednesday…or will they?

Katie Zilcosky / WAER News

A new exhibit at ArtRage Gallery brings the current photography of Shane Lavalette into the same room as historic photography from Marjory W. Wilkins. Both of them photographing Syracuse, in the area where Interstate 81 now stands, but at different times.

Daniel Lobo / Wikimedia Commons

Mayor Ben Walsh wants the Interstate 81 project to prioritize the communities adjacent to the viaduct and local workforce development. In a presentation during GreeningUSA’s Green Bag Lunch series Friday, Walsh said one of the key issues that will affect those living right next to the interstate is displacement.


Onondaga County’s Town Supervisors and Village Mayors say the state DOT has not considered their input regarding the department’s recommendation of a community grid to replace the I-81 viaduct through Syracuse. 

Funding for the I-81 project could come from a massive, $2 trillion infrastructure spending plan being considered by President Trump and congressional democrats. 

file photo

One of the first city leaders to call for the I-81 viaduct to come down is excited that the state has finally made a recommendation to replace it.

"I was very much overjoyed that the community grid had been the chosen option.  Although that does not mean that's the end of the story."

Scott Willis / WAER News

Businesses on I-81 just north of Syracuse and the county legislators that represent them are continuing to insist that a high-speed highway be maintained through the city.  They’re urging residents and others to speak out against the state’s recommendation last week of a community grid to replace the aging viaduct that cuts through downtown.


The Syracuse Mayor and Onondaga County Executive say the state DOT’s initial recommendation of a boulevard to replace I-81 through the city’s core presents a new opportunity to unite the community and move the transformative project forward.  

CNY Speaks is the new public affairs program from WAER that aims to discuss  issues and stories that matter to members of the Central New York community. The show debuted with a roundtable discussion about the future of I-81. WAER News Director Chris Bolt and Host/Reporter Katie Zilcosky facilitated a roundtable discussion to outline the timeline for a decision regarding the highway and how it could end up impacting the surrounding areas. 

Joining the WAER staff was Yusuf Abdul Qadir, Director of the Central New York Chapter  of The New York Civil Liberties Union, Jonathan Link Logan, Director of Northside UP at Centerstate CEO, and Dr. Anne Mosher ,Associate Professer and Chair of Citizenship and Civil Engagment at Syracuse University.

dot.ny.gov / 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.