Taxpayers learn total for I-81 changes could be more than $2 billion

The I-81 Challenge is hard to understand for many taxpayers.

More than one hundred taxpayers crowded into the Holiday Inn in the Town of Salina to hear what might be in store for interstate 81. Five separate options are being considered. They would change 81 from its intersection with 481 to both the north and south.

Options include a downtown tunnel and a street level boulevard, but some community members are asking one question. How will this impact me?

Jennifer Morith lives in Pennellville and says these delays will change the way she drives throughout the area. "If they take it out then people are going to have to take more than a 10 minute drive around 481 to get back to connect to 81 to go south," says Morith.

These plans range from $500 million to more than $2 billion. Money which is coming from taxpayers like Tara Graham. "That's ridiculous, it really is. Considering you see the averages up there on the board. To me it's really ridiculous considering it's cheaper for us just to reconstruct and keep it," says Graham.

James D'Agostino, Director of the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council, says this would be worth the long term investment. "There are cheaper way to do things today, but you don't just look at today's cost you have to look at a 20 year, 30 year, 40 year, 70 year cost investment. How much life are you going to get out of what you build," says D'Agostino.

That lifespan is coming to an end for the elevated section near Syracuse university. While we won't know exactly what will replace I-81 for several more years, taxpayers are wondering if this is worth the changes this will bring to the region.

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