DeFrancisco says Independent Study of I-81 in Syracuse shows Hybrid Option Still Worthy of Review

Dec 5, 2017

The I-81 viaduct looking north at the interchange with I-690.
Credit WAER File Photo/Scott Willis / WAER News

State Senator John DeFrancisco says the independent feasibility study released this week about options to replace Interstate-81 through Syracuse shows there’s room for an option that he supports.  The study by WSP focuses on tunnels and depressed highway options and most would take up to a decade to construct and billions of dollars.  The Senator thinks survey results indicate the Hybrid-Option that he previously supported should be considered.  The option consists of a tunnel for interstate traffic and a community grid to accommodate downtown traffic.

“It’s got to this last option, the Hybrid Option, the compromise option.  It has to be a part of the Environmental Impact Statement; so that you don’t have to speculate on all of these things.  You can get an analysis to see whether or not this problem is likely and I happen to believe it is.  Don’t end up with just a Community Grid with a Erie Boulevard on steroids coming north and south.”

The Senator adds that a community grid option without a tunnel would lead to “traffic grid-lock.”  He says what still needs to be considered is the impacts of how any of the options will affect businesses off I-81 near 7th North Street in Salina.

“The point being that all of the businesses along that area… the hotels and so forth, there would be no reason for people to going around I-481 and come down to their area to stay in a hotel.”

The study found that creating depressed highways would cause unnecessary traffic issues and technical challenges but, DeFrancisco disagrees.

“Go on I-81 as it goes through the Northside (of Syracuse); that’s a depressed highway and the world hasn’t fallen apart with a depressed highway to keep traffic moving.”

DeFrancisco wants the “Hybrid-Option” to be included in the State DOT’s Environmental Impact Statement for future plans on the highway. 

Senator DeFrancisco at a previous press conference on the future of I-81at the Crowne Plaza.
Credit John Smith / WAER News