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What happens if the state needs to acquire your Syracuse property during I-81 reconstruction?

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Tom Magnarelli
/
WRVO News
An informational public meeting on how the state acquires property.

The state Department of Transportation is informing the public on how it would acquire property if it is needed in the reconstruction of Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse. The earliest the state would begin that process is still two years away.

Property owners would be compensated with fair market value of their property, moving expenses and supplemental housing payments for owners and renters. The state is hoping to give six months’ notice in advance to relocate; federal law requires 90 days.

The heart of the project is where 81 and 690 cross in downtown Syracuse. I-81 project director Mark Frechette said regardless of which of the four alternatives is selected, about six miles of interstate is going to be affected including two and a half miles of Interstate 690 which runs east to west.

“People are a bit scared that the information hasn’t come out related to what the impacts are," Frechette said. "Each of the solutions has different impacts. Just don’t jump the gun and do a lot of speculation that we’re going to impact your property until such time that we do come out with that information.”

The options being considered for the reconstruction of I-81 are to do nothing, rebuild the current viaduct, create a boulevard  or dig a tunnel.

"The property impacts can be very different," Frechette said. "We have sub-options under these alternatives. People need too understand where those impacts are, it's one of the factors that gets used in selecting the preferred alternative."

In the fall, Frechette said the Department of Transportation will be able to let property owners know which properties will be affected by each option.

At the informational meetings, business owners wanted to know if the state would pay the costs to begin looking at alternative locations; which it will not.

Dave Mankiewicz, president of ?University Hill Corporation, said while construction may not involve the acquisition of his East Genesee business members’ properties, they still have concerns.

“They are right up against the highway so one of the key questions for them is what happens when your business falls while all that work is going on?"  Mankiewicz asked. "At what point will the state compensate versus when it won’t? It's going to be a critical question to a lot of businesses because those are more the realistic impacts that you see when you got to do this project."

And that is just one question among many others as progress on the I-81 project moves forward.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.