SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – Interstate 81 has divided Central New York in more ways than one— it’s no secret. Along with the physical division through the city of Syracuse, its people are also divided on what to do with it now.
“I think that the community grid makes a lot of sense,” Brian Escobar said.
“My personal opinion is that I think we should go with the hybrid solution,” Jim Mason said.
“I think that the elevated highway is the scar on our community,” Kim Morrell said.
Their voices, along with many others, were heard at Liverpool Middle School on Tuesday night at one of four town meetings held by U.S. representative John Katko. Mason’s biggest concern is his commute.
“It’s definitely gonna slow down my travel time. I work in the city quite a lot and in my job I drive all day for the most part,” he said.
So let’s take I-81 out of the picture for a second. If you take a closer look, these are the streets that would make up the community grid. Even though it might slow Mason down, it would divert traffic away from Almond and Harrison streets. Brian Escobar says that’s a good thing.
“It really matters to me that it’s a more accessible, more walkable, you know, richer community if you’re on the ground and not just a community where people just speed past,” he said.
All of the options have a high price tag, but the community grid is the cheapest option at $1.3 billion. Building a new viaduct would cost about a half billion more. Kim Morrell says that the investment in a community grid would pay it forward to the surrounding neighborhood.
“I think that we need to approach it integrating our community with both the residents who currently live there and new businesses and new residents who would move into the area,” Morrell said.
Auburn and DeWitt have already had their voices heard, as well. The next town hall meeting on the issue will be in downtown Syracuse on Thursday. Until then, thousands of people will drive on and under the most debated topic in Central New York every day.