Syracuse, N.Y. (NCC News) – Congressman John Katko (R) is hosting the final of four I-81 Town Hall meetings this evening. At 6 p.m. Syracuse residents are expected to be out in their numbers to voice their concerns about the highway.
The meeting will be held at Syracuse’s George Fowler High School and will discuss a number of different options to replace the aging viaduct. The viaduct is well under the state’s standard and everyone from the local level to the state level understands something must be done.
One of the options proposed is the community grid option. This option is said to be the preferred course of action for Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh and Syracuse Common Council Member Joe Driscoll, according to Syracuse.com
The grid would see the current viaduct demolished. The idea behind the move would be to connect both sides of the Syracuse community. It’s an idea that New York State Assemblywoman Pam Hunter fully supports because it is the “least disruptive.”
The second option is to replace the currently aging 1.4 mile stretch of highway and to rebuild a newer and safer version. After the meeting Tuesday, it is clear this idea appeals most to truckers who frequent the viaduct, and are concerned mostly about the extra travel time they would spend being diverted to I-481 instead.
The third option, and the most unlikely of the three because of cost, is building an underground tunnel. It would take nearly ten years and $3 billion to complete and would likely include a toll, according to state officials.
While some politicians are voicing their opinion on the matter, there are two notable New York State legislators who have yet to comment on the subject. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) and Congressman Katko are both yet to take a stance on the matter.
Approximately 200 people attended Tuesday’s meeting in Salina and a similar number will be expected tonight. Many concerned locals will be hoping the meeting makes significant strides towards a long awaited decision.