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Another voice in the I-81 debate: move people, not cars

Ryan Delaney
Peter Sarver of the Moving People Transportation Coalition at their kickoff event.

Another group has formed to weigh in on the future of Interstate 81’s path through downtown Syracuse. This one calling for a focus on moving people, not cars.

The elevated stretch of I-81 through downtown Syracuse is nearing the end of its 50 year lifespan. Area residents are entwined in a lengthy debate over its second life, which largely boils down to rebuild or reroute.

But a new group called the Moving People Transportation Coalition wants more emphasis put on public transportation. They’re calling for light rail and rapid transit to be a part of the discussion, which they say will improve quality of life and the environment.

Credit Ryan Delaney / WRVO
WRVO News File Photo

Organizer Barry Lentz says they’re not focused on one particular solution.

"The issue is, can we come together as a people and identify those critical social justice issues that need to guide the process, regardless of what the alternative is," he said at a kickoff rally Thursday.

Karen Gillette is disabled and relies on public transportation, which she says is a regular impediment to life.

"We need access to work and recreation in Syracuse," she said, "and to move beyond survival."

The group says more public transit will improve quality of life and the environment in the community.

The state transportation department is taking its first round of public comments through Jan. 17. A final decision on I-81’s future isn’t expected for three more years.