Dewitt residents share concern about I481 impact of I81 Challenge

This sign sits on Rick Coughlin's yard in the Town of Dewitt

Onondaga County lawmakers may have rejected the I481 possibility of the I81 Challenge, but the ultimate decision is still up to New York State.

Dewitt residents are concerned about the possibility of I81 being rerouted to I481, bringing more traffic to the area. Dan Marsh has lived on Marsh Drive near Townline Road just a few feet from I481 for his entire life. His family moved to that location more than 100 years ago. You can see the words "Marsh Farms" on a big red barn going south on I481 in Dewitt, a symbol of how the Marsh's have seen the landscape change over the years.

"I remember we used to play on it [481] when we were kids even," Marsh says. "Ride our mini-bikes on it or our bicycles to Dewitt, so it's been here quite awhile."

It was the year 1970 when the road was completed, and the hum of the cars has grown over the years, but Marsh says the family is used to it by now, and that generally, the only time traffic is at its worst, is during rush hour.

"In the middle of the night it will quiet right down, you can go a couple minutes without a car on the highway, which helps with the neighborhood 'feel'," Marsh says.

Marsh is concerned about the possible change of I81, and he believes it will bring not only more traffic, but more pollution to the Dewitt region as well. He thinks the volume of traffic will be a problem and says it could cause more accidents.

While others in the village disagree, and won't be bothered by the change, Marsh isn't alone. Farther south in Dewitt near I481, Rick Coughlin is also worried about I481 picking up more traffic, citing dust and noise in his backyard. He started a group in his neighborhood, and now has a sign on his yard that says, "I81 Challenge? Wrong for Dewitt". He is worried that New York State will make the final decision.

"People at the top of the DOT seem to think its okay to send traffic through our town," Coughlin says. "I just respectfully think that's not a good idea."

There will be another public meeting on what to do with 81 on May 21st at the Oncenter.