For Immediate Release: November 12, 2013
Contact: Mark Nicotra, (315) 313-5765, [email protected]
For all media inquires regarding these materials, please contact at (315) 313-5765 or [email protected].

In Letter To State On Behalf Of Save81.Org, Engineering Firm Warns That A Boulevard Would Not Support Traffic Levels And Should Be “Eliminated From Consideration”

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – In a letter on behalf of, national engineering firm Maser Consulting wrote that the state’s boulevard plan for dealing with the aging portions of Interstate 81 in Downtown Syracuse would fail to support current and future traffic levels and should be “eliminated from consideration.”

“At first glance, the boulevard option may appear to be an appropriate alterative,” the letter stated.  “However, we disagree and believe this option should be eliminated from consideration because on its face it fails to meet the purposes, goals and objectives of the project and will not meet Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) standards for an interstate highway.”

The letter will be included in’s formal submission to the state Department of Transportation as part of the public comment period of the environmental review process. The DOT will host a public scoping meeting from 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the OnCenter, at which the public can make comments that will be included in the official I-81 project record.

“These findings support what many area residents have long feared about a boulevard: that it will create a traffic nightmare with longer commutes and more frustration,” said spokesman Mark Nicotra, Town Supervisor of Salina.  “We encourage residents concerned about the boulevard idea to come to the OnCenter on Wednesday and tell the state to focus on I-81 options that will work for our entire community.”

A copy of the letter can be found at  Among its observations, Maser Consulting found:

  • The state’s boulevard plan as proposed would be unable to support current traffic levels.  In fact, the boulevard would have to support not only existing surface street traffic but also most of the traffic now carried on the elevated viaduct.

  • With up to 12 percent of the traffic on I-81 considered “through traffic” (based on published reports from the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council) which would be diverted to I-481, 88 percent of existing traffic would be diverted to street level, far in excess of the capacity a boulevard could provide.  Without counting future growth in traffic levels, traffic at street level would nearly double to about 10,000 vehicles in the AM Peak and PM Peak hours.

  • The boulevard would fail to improve congestion, mobility and traffic safety on the existing interstate highway network.  In fact, it may increase congestion on I-481/I-690 east of I-81 once delays on the boulevard materialize because of insufficient capacity.

  • To accommodate current and projected traffic, a boulevard would require 12 or more lanes within a significantly increased right-of-way width to support future volumes.  This increased right-of-way width would displace residents in the Pioneer Homes and Toomey Abbott Towers area, as well as businesses along Almond Street.

  • A boulevard would fail to improve connectivity in the immediate vicinity.  Instead, it would increase any perceived or actual barriers by enlarging the divide, inhibiting movement of commerce to, from and through Syracuse.

  • Diverting I-81 would require movement of commerce around the city on I-481, which would significantly increase travel time, fuel consumption and air pollution as well as contribute to sprawl that is contrary to the New York Smart Growth Law.

  • Air quality would deteriorate dramatically and noise levels would likely increase due to idling, stopping and starting of slowed traffic along with associated increases to travel time caused by a boulevard.

  • Traffic safety would deteriorate as accidents between vehicles and between vehicles and pedestrians/bicycles would significantly increase, resulting in increased accidents, property damage and injuries.

  • The cost to demolish the elevated highway and to construct the boulevard and all related improvements may not be funded by the Federal Highway Administration because they will no longer be facilitating or be related to the interstate highway system.  Those costs could be passed on to the state and/or the city.

Read Maser’s letter and full report here.

About Maser Consulting:
Maser Consulting is a privately owned, multi-disciplined, engineering firm with a unique balance of public and private sector experience. Headquartered in Red Bank, N.J., the firm has consistently been recognized nationally by Engineering News Record as one of its Top 500 Design Firms and employs over 400 professionals throughout the East Coast with a nationally diversified project portfolio.

About is a diverse coalition of concerned residents, elected officials, employers, union members, and community groups that have come together as officials in Albany determine how to deal with the aging portions of I-81 in our area. opposes a plan being considered to replace I-81 in Downtown Syracuse with a boulevard that would divert Interstate traffic away from the City and leave traffic congestion and air pollution in its place.

For more information, visit