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DOT to consider new I-81 roundabout options amid public pushback

New York State Department of Transportation
A rendering of the I-81 roundabout outside of Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School of Syracuse's southside.

As the series of public hearings and information sessions on the Interstate 81 viaduct project winds down, Project Director Mark Frechette expects the number of comments to ramp up.

"I have seen a tremendous uptick this week in the number of comments, and I think that will continue to grow as we get close to the deadline of October 14th," said Frechette.

There have been 3,000 comments to date on the $2 billion proposal, according to Frechette. Many of them are critical of a plan to install a roundabout near the Martin Luther King Jr. elementary school on the city’s south side. Frechette said engineers now are looking at different options for the traffic-calming strategy that are not so close to the school.

"We are looking south of the MLK roundabout," said Frechette. "We are looking north of the MLK roundabout to see what the pros and cons are. We’re in the preliminary study phase, we don’t totally understand all of that as we speak."

Frechette said any adjustment to the proposed community grid alternative would be added to the final environmental impact statement, and there would be further comments after that. In the meantime, until October 14th, anyone can submit comments digitally on the New York State Department of Transportation website, by mail, or through voicemail on a project hotline.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.