Updated 05/09/2012 08:51 PM
Residents get chance to view I-81 Challenge plans
Officials say portions of Interstate 81 in the City of Syracuse are nearing the end of their life spans, meaning a decision on what to do about the aging highway is needed soon. Wednesday, the public was given the chance to take a closer look at five proposals up for consideration. Our Candace Hopkins has more from the Oncenter.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Interstate 81 through the City of Syracuse was built in the 1950s and today, between 80,000 and 100,000 cars travel that section of highway every day.
But decades of use have left some portions of the road in need of serious repair.
Now, the DOT and Syracuse officials are considering five options for moving forward and are asking for the public's input in the process.
"When this was done the first time, 50 or 60 years ago, there wasn't a lot of public involvement that was engaging, so we're going out of our way, a lot out of our way, to make sure we give everyone an opportunity to have their ideas known," said Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council Director James D'Agostino.
Wednesday at the Oncenter, people got that opportunity to closely examine the five master improvement strategies being considered and a chance to give vital feedback.
"We're going to take these strategies, refine them based on what we hear today and then we're going to put them into a variety of advanced computer models that are going to allow us to compare the results and the impacts of the different strategies to each other," said D'Agostino.
The studies will exam issues like the economy, land use and pedestrians, an aspect many residents, like Elaine Walter, want more attention focused on.
"I think our city could be a lot more bike and pedestrian friendly. I think there's other models out there, places that are. My kids are in Chicago. You can walk and bike and take public transportation. You don't need a car," said Walter.
Many people we spoke with believe an urban boulevard would support foot traffic and help develop the downtown area.
"People don't develop or live near elevated highways, but they do on a parkway type thing," said Syracuse resident Michael Coviello.
Following Wednesday's meeting, officials say the next step is to figure out which plan works best for the city and will be economically sound. Officials say the planning stages for the project could continue for the next several years and construction on whichever plan is chosen won't begin until at least 2017.