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      New Syracuse group opposes I-81 diversion option, members include state lawmakers

      A new group called Save81.org held a news conference to voice its opposition to proposals that would reroute I-81 away from its current traffic pattern.

      Several prominent elected officials and business leaders in the Syracuse area joined forces to oppose any plans to divert the stretch of Interstate 81 that runs through the city.

      A new group called Save81.org held a news conference Thursday morning in downtown Syracuse to voice its opposition to proposals that would reroute I-81 away from its current traffic pattern. One plan being considered by state transportation officials would turn the elevated portion of the highway into a boulevard with stop lights and cross streets.

      Members of Save81.org say such a plan would increase traffic congestion and drive business away from the downtown area.

      The group specifically opposes the boulevard option. They believe the chosen plan should "preserve and enhance the highwayâ??s current alignment and Interstate Highway designation through the region, particularly the stretch of I-81 running through Syracuse."

      The group's members include several state lawmakers, hotel owners and tourism officials. Supporters say removing I-81 from downtown Syracuse will revitalize the city.

      â??I-81 is an economic backbone for our area, a vital artery that links city neighborhoods and suburban and rural areas with Downtown Syracuse and many key destinations,â?? said Tony Mangano, Save81.org spokesman and local business owner. â??It plays a critical role in the regionâ??s economy, public safety and accessibility. We must ensure that its current function is preserved, and Save81.org is committed to working toward that goal.â??

      Members of Save.81.org include:

      Kathleen Rapp, Onondaga County Legislature 5th DistrictRobert Andrews, Onondaga County Legislator, 9th DistrictMark Atikinson, Mayor, Village of North SyracuseMichael Chapman, Chariman, Cayuga County LegislatureJohn Dougherty, Onondaga County Legislature, 2nd DistrictDavid Knapp, Onondaga County Legislature, 12th DistrictDanny Liedka, Onondaga County Legislature, 7th DistrictBrian May, Onondaga County Legislature, 1st DistrictRyan McMahon, Chairman, Onondaga County Legislature, 15th DistrictMichael Plochocki, Onondaga County Legislature, 6th DistrictChristopher Ryan, Onondaga County Legislature, 8th DistrictJudy Tassone, Onondaga County Legislature, 4th District

      Mark Nicotra, Town Supervisor, Salina Town BoardEdward Michalenko, Town Supervisor, DeWitt Town BoardEdward Wagner, Town Supervisor, Owasco Town BoardTeresa Roney, Town Supervisor, Skaneateles Town BoardJoseph Ranieri, Town Clerk, Geddes Town BoardGary Hatfield, Town Supervisor, Moravia Town BoardMichael Lazar, Chairman, Town of DeWitt Planning BoardKerry Mannion, Member, Town of DeWitt Town BoardGary White, Mayor, Village of LiverpoolJeffrey Herrick, Town Supervisor, Sennett Town BoardGary Searing, Town Supervisor, Fleming Town Board

      Greater Syracuse Hospitality and Tourism AssociationJim Bright, Owner, Dunk and BrightTony Mangano, Owner, Ramada InnPatrick Danial, TerakeetTodd Buchko, General Manager, WonderWorks (Destiny USA)T-John Goodman, Owner, Sweet on ChocolateJoseph Emmi, Super 8 SyracuseMarc Emmi, Hampton Inn LiverpoolCarmen Emmi Jr., Homewood SuitesJoe Falcone, Dominick Falcone InsuranceJim Gallagher, Holiday InnDavid Heymann, Sheraton SyracuseSteve Hughes, Tim HortonsBruce Kenan, Destiny USAGary May, Mayâ??s AutoTodd May, Southern Wine and SpiritsJohn Sposato, Sposato CompaniesRichard Sykes, The Inns at Armory Square

      (Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)