Syracuse, New York — Construction On The I-81 construction project has been halted.
A state judge halted development on the I-81 project in Syracuse last month after a host of law suits have been filed in opposition to the project.
The group behind the lawsuit, Renew 81 For All, opposes the project’s “community grid” the group cites a multitude of factors behind the lawsuit. Supporters of the I-81 Construction project claim the lawsuits are to delay development and stop the project all together.
Though signees on the suit say otherwise, Charles Garland a Democratic legislator on the Onondaga Legislature says that the suit is more about the environmental impact.
“Its not about keeping it or you know anything like that. Its about the fact that NYSDOT did
not do the environmental justice testing that they would require of any other contractor.” Garland said.
The suit, filed by the firm Knauf Shaw LLP out of Rochester. States that the I-81 Project does not comply with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (EEQRA) as well as other state environmental regulations. The suit also claims that the redirect of traffic will impact surrounding communities with pollution. Which Garland believes will impact the African American communities the hardest.
“They’re going to redirect those same overhead emissions from traffic right back into the African
American Area.” Garland Said.
While these suits are occurring Garland believes that 81 needs to be rebuilt and that the current structure is out of date. The proposal he supports is the Harriet Tubman Memorial Freedom Bridge. The proposed Skybridge would be a rebuilt of the current 81 bridge and would be 70 feet in the air. Garland says it would provide Syracuse with what the current bridge does now with traffic.
“I-81 might have outlived its structural use but not its functional use and thats the like of conveying the traffic through, so it was a wonderful idea.” Garland Said.
The first hearing in the New York Supreme Court will be on January 12th, 2023.