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NY adds more public hearings, open house on I-81 project

Community Grid.jpg
New York State Department of Transportation
The Community Grid along a reimagined and redesigned Almond Street in Syracuse.

New York state has tacked on some extra times for central New Yorkers to comment about the proposed Interstate-81 project.

The state has doubled the number of public hearings to get the community's feel about an environmental impact statement, released earlier this month. The number of hearings has increased from two to four, online and in-person sessions August 17 and 18.

Get the latest news on I-81 from the DOT here.

The state has also added a five-hour open house before the set of hearings on August 18. As it stands now, New York state’s plan is to tear down the elevated interstate that runs through Syracuse, and reroute thru traffic to Interstate 481. The plans would impact a wide swath of the community, creating new exit ramps, a roundabout to slow down highway traffic, upgrading I-481 with a specific plan to upgrade the DeWitt and Fayetteville off-ramps.

The Federal Highway Administration has the final say on the state’s plan, which is why Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said getting comments and concerns in place is key.

"During the comment period, if you don’t raise them they won’t be listened to,” Katko said. “If you raise them, the Federal Highway Administration will look at them and say okay, this one is important and state DOT, you’ve got to fix this or this isn’t a very important issue."

Katko said this is not just a rubber stamp after the comment period is over.

“There’s a real possibility that this could change going forward,” he said.

The state is expected to begin work on the project next year. The federal government is paying 80% of the estimated $2 billion tab.