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Transportation

Schumer ready to work with Trump, especially if it means money for I-81

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Ellen Abbott
/
WRVO News
Sen. Charles Schumer in DeWitt earlier this week.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is encouraging central New Yorkers to come together regarding a plan for the future of Interstate 81 through Syracuse. The Democrat says he’s ready to work with President-elect Donald Trump on infrastructure, but he warns against a divided community.

Schumer says if the Trump administration can push through a $1 trillion infrastructure plan, there will be plenty of funds available for a big ticket item like replacing the Interstate 81 viaduct in downtown Syracuse. But he has a caveat: there will be a lot of competition for that cash, which means consensus is key.

"I would urge our community here in central New York to get together and come up with a plan, because if we get an infrastructure bill, I-81 is one of the things I’m going to push for, and there’s a lot of division about what should happen,” Schumer says. “If there’s division, nothing will happen. So we need people to get together and choose the next plan.”

And the community is divided about the two plans the state is considering: creation of a boulevard, also called the community grid, would route through traffic around the city; or rebuilding the viaduct where it is. Earlier this month a coalition of elected state officials joined together to criticize the state for eliminating the more expensive tunnel option from their deliberations.

Federal dollars will fund more than 80 percent of the project. New York State Department of Transportation officials are expected to make a final decision on an option in January.