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Comment period for I-81 project extended for a month

By Eric Reinhardt (ereinhardt@cnybj.com)

Date:

The Interstate-81 viaduct in downtown Syracuse (Photo credit: zoeyadvertising.com)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Interested Central New Yorkers will have another month to comment on the $2 billion Interstate 81 viaduct replacement project.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) on Thursday announced they’ll extend the public-comment period from Sept. 14 to Oct. 14, or a total of 30 days.

NYSDOT also has three neighborhood meetings scheduled in September to discuss the project.

State officials favor the community-grid alternative for the project, which would deconstruct a section of I-81 in downtown Syracuse and redirect highway traffic to I- 481. A portion of I-690 near the current intersection with I-81 would also be rebuilt and a boulevard-like Business Loop 81would be created in downtown.

Marie Therese Dominguez, commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT); Mark Frechette, project manager; and other DOT officials addressed reporters during a July 16 briefing at the Senator John H. Hughes State Office Building at 333 E. Washington St. in Syracuse.

The New York State Department of Transportation says it applauds the FHWA decision to extend the public comment period on the draft environmental-impact statement.

“The extension, through October 14, 2021, provides the community additional opportunities to offer input on this transformative project. As NYSDOT has done at every step in the review process, we strongly encourage the public to submit comments at https://webapps.dot.ny.gov/i-81-viaduct-project.”

U.S. Representative John Katko (R–Camillus) on Thursday night released a statement applauding the extension.

“I’m pleased FHWA and NYSDOT have decided to heed my call and extend the public comment period for the I-81 Viaduct Project for a total of 30 days. The public-comment period will now conclude on October 14th. I’ve heard directly from Central New Yorkers on the need for an extension. This extra time is essential to ensure all voices in our community can be heard. With the proposal for this project containing thousands of pages, Central New Yorkers deserve ample time to digest the plan and provide informed input. I continue to encourage Central New Yorkers to make their voices heard during this process and take advantage of available online resources and informational meetings being held to learn more about the proposal. This is a monumental project that will impact the City of Syracuse and surrounding region for generations to come. As I’ve always said, I stand ready to provide federal support for the plan our community chooses.”

Additional neighborhood meetings

NYSDOT also has three additional neighborhood meetings where staff members can explain the project and answer questions. The meetings are scheduled from 6-8 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Sept. 8 at Mott Road Elementary School, 7173 Mott Road in Fayetteville
  • Sept. 9 at Dr. King Elementary School, 416 E. Raynor Ave. in Syracuse.
  • Sept. 13 at Cicero-North Syracuse High School, 6002 Route 31 in Cicero