State Department of Transportation officials host another meeting about the future of Interstate 81 project. YNN's Iris St. Meran has more about an idea from one local engineer.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- DOT officials continue to make their rounds around the community in a series of neighborhood meetings. They're discussing the future of Interstate 81, what's been done to date and what's left to do including getting the public involved in the scoping process.
NYS DOT Public Information Officer Gene Cilento said, "It's just another step in the process. Where we start to refine the alternatives then we begin preparation of the environmental impact statement."
During the meeting, the audience was able to ask questions and provide feedback on what they'd like to see. Larry Carter Center thinks 81 should be removed.
Carter Center said, "All you have to do is go around 481. All the major cities have beltways. If you're carrying freight north or taking freight from the north to the south, just go right around 481."
The DOT has said some of the potential alternatives include removing the highway, making a boulevard, reconstructing the highway, relocating it or making a tunnel.
Engineer Jason Sperry wants a tunnel and said he's developed a design, but says no one from the DOT has been responsive.
Sperry told the DOT at the meeting, “For about six months I've been trying my darndest to be part of the process."
His tunnel concept would move the interest about a mile east below SU and the northern hills. He says this would allow the viaduct to remain open while the tunnel is being constructed minimizing traffic, but this could also mean even more development in the city.
"You could redevelop the existing I-81 corridor per however the community wants it," Sperry explained.
He says this can be done through public and private partnerships. The cost of the tunnel is dependent on the contract, but could top $1-billion. But he says there would be minimal maintenance because you wouldn't have to worry about freezing, thawing or even salting the roads due to inclement weather.
He did get the DOT's attention Tuesday night to discuss this concept further what they'll do with the information remains to be seen.
The first scoping meeting is scheduled for November 13 at the Oncenter.