Central New York stands up for I-81

As 2018 wrapped up, we continued to see so much support for maintaining high-speed access via Interstate 81 from the Central New York community. And we’re still seeing more people stepping up to make their voices heard as we near the release of a draft environmental impact statement about this project, the next key step in this process.

Both the Onondaga County Town Supervisors and Mayors associations are getting press for letters they wrote to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, urging him and his administration to consider the significant negative effects that a community grid-only replacement of I-81 would have on the entire region.

“Our motivation for wanting Interstate 81 to continue along its current alignment stems from our desire to preserve the quality of life within Central New York, and to ensure that our local economy is poised for growth into the future,” the Onondaga County Supervisors Association wrote in its letter. More here from the Daily Orange.

Damian Ulatowski, Town of Clay supervisor, shared his concerns about a community-grid only solution on air with WRVO:

“Why should they have to be diverted all the way around the city on a road (I-481) that was not designed to take that kind of traffic?” he asked. “It’s only two-lane traffic now and if you travel that almost any morning on a commute you will find that it backs up itself. Now you want to pump even more traffic onto it?”

Ulatowski also appeared in the Post-Standard this month, writing, “Let’s not forget that our Central New York Community and much of its economy grew up around the I-81 corridor that carved its way through the suburbs on its way to and beyond the city of Syracuse.

“Today, these same suburbs are home to tens of thousands of people from all walks of life. A grid or ground option, although aesthetically pleasing, would bring to a halt the daily traffic that carries the life blood of those Central New Yorkers who drive the Syracuse engine. Additionally, numerous signalized intersections interrupting the otherwise smooth and efficient flow of traffic through the city of Syracuse via an interstate is contrary to good urban planning.”

Meanwhile, Assemblyman William Magnarelli was appointed chair of the Assembly Committee on Transportation. Assemblyman Magnarelli, a longtime champion of high-speed access and maintaining I-81’s current route, appeared on Spectrum’s Capital Tonight to talk more about the 81 project and its importance to the future of Syracuse and the Central New York region.

Voices from the community and from experts continue to flood inboxes, as well.

Gloria Sage of Syracuse wrote in the Post-Standard:

“Did you experience the gridlock following the Syracuse University-Louisville football game? With the community grid, that will be the new normal for downtown. Unless there is an event of the order of that football game, people will choose different venues for dining and entertainment in order to avoid gridlock and parking headaches.”

Engineer John Shafer wrote in the Post-Standard:

“After spending decades at the top levels of the state Department of Transportation and Thruway Authority and studying the current Interstate 81 project, I am confident that not only is a tunnel feasible, it is, when combined with street-level improvements such as the “community grid,” the consensus option that the state is seeking.”