© 2023 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Skaneateles residents worry I-81 viaduct option could bring more truck traffic

Tom Magnarelli
A map provided by the town supervisor of Skaneateles showing the extra distance of rerouting I-81 to I-481.

The New York State Department of Transportation is hosting neighborhood meetings regarding the Interstate-81 reconstruction project through downtown Syracuse. Many residents in Skaneateles are concerned that the project could negatively affect their area.

The state’s alternatives are down to two options: expand the existing one mile of the elevated I-81 highway through downtown Syracuse or eliminate and replace it with a street-level community grid. Kate Graham lives just south of Aurora in King Ferry and said she is worried the community grid option could bring more trucks through her area.

“The trucks don’t want to take the little extra time that it would take to go up 81 and then on the thruway,” Graham said.

The community grid option would reroute I-81 traffic to Interstate 481 or the downtown Syracuse streets.

Credit Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News
I-81 viaduct meeting in Skaneateles.

Betty Liegel of Skaneateles said the trucks bring noise, inconvenience and environmental concerns to Skaneateles Lake.

“Already the trucks do not go up and join the Thruway so if they have to travel even further, they’re not going to do it then, if they’re not going to do it now,” Liegel said.

Paul Torrisi, president of the Skaneateles Lake Association said in the last several years there has been an increase in trucks in Skaneateles. He said many trash trucks coming from the New York metropolitan area are going to the Seneca Meadows Landfill, west of Skaneateles.

“They don’t stay on I-81 and they don’t want to take the toll roads, so they cut through the Finger Lakes area and there have been some spills noted in the past, and that is a big concern of anybody concerned about the quality of drinking water and the quality of the lakes as they exist now,” Torrisi said.

Paul's wife, Mary Torrisi said she is also concerned about the environmental effects more trucks could have on Skaneateles Lake.

“I worry about my grandkids, I worry about myself crossing the street, I worry about any spill, particularly with these garbage trucks from New York City and they spill and ruin this lake, it’s one of the cleanest lakes in the United States," Mary Torrisi said. "I’d hate to see something happen to a beautiful natural resource.”

Gene Cilento of the state Department of Transportation said while the trucks may be a separate issue requiring additional consideration, he said the I-81 project is a balancing act trying to benefit the most people while negatively impacting the fewest.

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.