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St. Joseph's Hospital weighs in on future of I-81

Community Grid Alternative for changes to I81 through Syracuse. (CNY Central)

What to do with the elevated section of Interstate 81 in downtown Syracuse that will impact the community for decades?

St Joseph's Hospital Health Center, which is not far from I-81, wants the community grid option.

Supporters say it's the option that will bring the area together.

“This is all part of our mission. So, our mission is to be compassionate transforming healing presence within our community,” CEO and president of St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center Leslie Paul Luke said.

Luke said it is all about keeping people in the area healthy and said the current structure divides people.

“I don’t think there was enough thought about how it would create the amount of poverty that is here in Syracuse. As you've looked at the statistics over time poverty has continued to grow here in Syracuse and as a result, the overall health has declined,” Luke said.

With this option, Luke said this is not a business decision.

“We just feel like Syracuse now has the opportunity to make a real difference and make a better decision,” Luke said.

The future of 81 is a hotly debated topic.

“Well, frankly I think St Josephs has it backwards,” town of Salina Supervisor Mark Nicotra said.

Nicotra is a supporter of saving interstate 81 and rebuilding it how it is now.

He believes it benefits the city of Syracuse and other areas around Central New York

“All those cars the 80,000 plus vehicles a day that are utilizing the highway now flooded through city streets which is going to be a worse impact,” Nicotra said.

Earlier this year Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered an additional study and those results will be released early next year.

After that study, the State Department of Transportation will make its recommendation.

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