Future of elevated I-81 through Syracuse reduced to two options

James D'Agostino could hardly contain his excitement of a successful public comment session at the i81 Challenge meeting at Syracuse's OnCenter.

The Director of the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council had worked intensely with his staff and the New York State Department of Transportation to present a detailed glossy review of an updated timeline of events on the future of 81 through downtwon Syracuse.

Organizers had hoped for 500 visitors over a four and a half hour session. Instead the first 500 had come through the doors in the initial two hours. There was a steady stream of business people, politicians and citizens with an interest in the future of Central New York.

The displays walked guests through the early stages of the lengthy process of selecting a future plan for 81. The busiest area held the detailed analysis of the final two plans for rebuilding 81.

One section detailed reconstructing an elevated viaduct through downtown Syracuse. It included artist renderings, a map of the route and data about traffic delays or improvements that would come with this option. The next section had the same list of descriptive panels for the option of tearing down the elevated highway and replacing it with a boulevard through the 1.2 mile section that runs near Almond Street.

A consultant has now been hired to analyze the two primary options including extensive environmental analysis. A decision is likely still two years away.