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Onondaga County mayors, supervisors oppose community-grid-only for I-81 replacement

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News (file photo)

Thirty-three village and town executives in Onondaga County wrote a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state officials last week urging them to keep high-speed access along the I-81 corridor in Syracuse. The local officials say rebuilding the viaduct or replacing it with a tunnel are both better options than the community grid for which many in Syracuse are advocating.

Damian Ulatowski, the town of Clay's supervisor and president of the Onondaga County Supervisor’s Association, said the community grid-only option would likely result in diverted traffic onto I-481, bringing excess traffic and as a result reducing air quality in surrounding communities.

"Why should they have to be diverted all the way around the city on a road that was not designed to take that kind of traffic?" Ulatowski 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?"

The village and town leaders also say the community grid could create massive gridlock in Syracuse should any of the new intersections experience an accident. They instead are advocating for a hybrid underground tunnel option with a community grid on the surface.

The state Department of Transportation is expected to release a draft environmental impact statement onthe different options for the elevated portion of the highway. 

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.