What next, I-81?

Down in the Syracuse War Memorial's Green Room -- which was anything but green, instead dank and dreary, more like an old submarine's engine room - The Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council (SMTC) came before Onondaga County's Facilities Committee on Monday Aug. 12 to open up discussion in regards to the fate of the bridge over I-81. This is the elevated stretch of the interstate that snakes its way through the city with a 45 mile-per-hour speed limit. It was built in the late 1950s, and some say it was ill conceived from the start.

Officials said they couldn't comment on the initial project, instead they were on hand to start considering the best course for this stretch of highway in the future.

"This is a road that will affect everyone in the community in some shape or form," SMTC's director James D'Agostino said.

Will the bridge be renovated, rebuilt, made into a tunnel or bypassed?

This two-year planning process is slated to determine the answer and it will include input from the city of Syracuse, Onondaga County and state officials, residents, business owners and agencies.

"Anything that is going to affect the geography of our community you need to go out to the public and educate them on," D'Agostino said, "then in turn, listen to their needs and concerns."

This will be a federally funded project, but all federal projects also have state funding. It was noted that the New York State Department of Transportation is looking to hire a consultant to work on this project.

D'Agostino said the SMTC is a consensus agency that is our job. After listening to all points of view they often come up with hybrid decisions.

One question involved the Destiny project's infrastructure plan and securing their input. Not only giving them a voice, but coordinating efforts.

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