I-81 opinions: Needs of suburban majority outweigh grid proponents (Your letters)

To the Editor:

Interstate 81 serves as a vital backbone for the economy of Onondaga County, and for decades it has been an economic driver for the many towns and businesses that have grown around it. Recently, representatives of 11 hotels located along Interstate 81 sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressing our concerns about what a grid-only solution would mean for the economic stability of the town of Salina. The hotels on our exit generate millions of dollars annually in school, county and state sales taxes.

Up to 30 percent of our customers don’t make reservations ahead of time, choosing instead to stop at a convenient location while traveling. Re-routing traffic to I-481 would drive customers away from these hotels and other business on the exit. This would result in layoffs and a reduction in taxes that go to the schools and the county. A school district with less funding will be less desirable and impact home values of all residents.

Many (if not all) of the communities surrounding the city are also against a grid-only solution. The city of Syracuse has approximately 150,000 residents while Onondaga County has over 460,000 residents. We cannot allow to the preference of the minority to usurp the needs of the majority.

We are grateful for the governor’s past support and investment in our communities. We urge Cuomo and the New York State Department of Transportation to choose a hybrid solution that benefits our entire community or, at the very least, one that meets the needs of the majority.

Viraj Patel