August 6, 2013
After a delay of several weeks, transportation planners have voted to move forward with the next step of planning for the future of Interstate 81 in Syracuse.
The Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council okayed a $32 million engineering an environmental impact study. Its job will be to narrow the options down to one-or two plans for I-81, and assess their impact.
The 1.5 miles of elevated interstate running through Syracuse is reaching the end of its lifespan.
Last week a coalition of business owners and suburban lawmakers formed a group to lobby for keeping that section of I-81 as is - rather than re-routing it around the city. 'Save 81-dot-org' already has 1,000 members, the group claims.
Syracuse Common Council President and SMTC board member Van Robinson is one of the largest proponents of the highway coming down. He says the businesses, like Destiny USA, that want the highway to stay put are making a mountain out of a molehill.
ROBINSON <It is a destination. It will remain a destination and the number of people that will bypass them will be minimal, if any.>
The Department of Transportation temporarily pulled its approval of the study last month in order to come up with a public engagement plan following public outcry over the process.
A final decision is expected in 2017.