Nearly 100 Turn Out for Latest I-81 Hearing Telling Transportation Officials They Don't Feel Heard

Sep 25, 2013

Hearing on the future of I-81 drew a crowd of around 100.
Hearing on the future of I-81 drew a crowd of around 100.
Credit Brett Samuels/WAER News

The first neighborhood hearing hosted by the State Department of Transportation about the future of I-81 drew about 100 people to Toomey Abbott Towers Wednesday.

Residents like Barry Lents said the state needs to be open to all possibilities when considering the replacement of the elevated portion of the highway, not just the two that have gained the most attention - replacing the raised section or converting it into a ground level boulevard.  Other speakers expressed concern that poor people suffered when the original interstate was built, while others worry comments from the public seem largely ignored.

Barry Gewanter was one of the speaker at Wednesday's hearing
Barry Gewanter was one of the speaker at Wednesday's hearing
Credit Brett Samuels/WAER News

State D-O-T spokesperson Beau Duffy says the planning process is still in the early stages…

"We're at the starting line of the formal process that will result in a project for I-81.  It's probably going to take us up to two years to get to that final project, but every meeting along the way is important."

Several more hearings are scheduled during the next few weeks in the city, as well as in DeWitt and Salina.