I-81 Interchange may take *yawn* awhile

The newly proposed I-81 Interchange in Cicero will most likely take years to come to fruition according to Town Supervisor Chet Dudzinski.

Dudzinski, who unveiled the estimated $10 million project last week, said the reason it would take so long to rebuild the interchange is simply because its a federal highway, and anything federal, he said, "always requires a federal study."

"Those things can take years to complete," Dudzinski said. "I wish we could start work on it tomorrow, but like anything in state and federal ranks, there's always multiple layers of government to go through.

The plan calls for four new entrance ramps, called "slips," that will draw traffic away from the commercial district by catching traffic well before the traffic-laden Route 11 from the north and south respectively. Traffic from the west would be rerouted to an access route that would connect Interstate 81 to Caughdenoy Road in Clay.

It all started when State Department of Transportation, lead by Commissioner Tom Madison, visited Cicero in July to give the town money to fix up roads around Driver's Village. Dudzinski and Roger Burdick, owner of Driver's Village, took Madison to Burdick's office to show him a jam-packed onramp leading to Route 81.

Madison told Dudzinski and Burdick they had a case, but a project that big would not come right away.

"You got to be realistic," Dudzinski said. "State and federal funding isn't just handed out."

But Dudzinski said he knew the project would be long term from the beginning. He said the road simply hasn't kept up with the growing size of Cicero and the surrounding areas. Sooner or later, somebody had to say something, he said.

Dudzinski said his next step will be to approach Assemblyman Jeff Brown in an effort to obtain state and federal funding.

"Now is the time to bring state and federal attention the possibility of a new exit," Dudzinski said. "We wanted to get the ball moving. Everybody knows that what we have now is overly congested."

According to town records, more than 20,000 cars use the federally owned, state-maintained interchange every day.

If all goes according to plan, Dudzinski said he still can't tell when the project will start.

"We'll see if I live that long," he said.

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