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Southern Tier

Opinions mixed following latest I-81 meeting

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Opinions mixed following latest I-81 meeting
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The Syracuse community received an in-depth look into how the DOT may fix I-81. With 16 potential options available, the DOT discussed all of them Thursday. Reporter Iris St. Meran talked to residents about the proposals.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- If a person was to ask 100 different people what to do with Interstate 81, they would likely get 100 different answers. But there's one thing everyone can agree on.

"All communities need a good transportation system in order to survive," said William Ginn, of Syracuse.

Getting there is half the battle. Thursday, the DOT presented its options to the public.
They include rehabilitating the viaduct, a street level boulevard, a tunnel, a depressed highway and re-routing I-81 to the west. Each have variations that lead to 16 choices, which will eventually have to be narrowed down.

"There's a number of factors that are considered. First and foremost, do the alternatives meet the goals of the project? By reasonable and feasible, can they be constructed in a reasonable amount of time and are they affordable said," Beau Duffy, the DOT communications director.

People say the information was helpful and some of the options on the table did pique their interest.

"The depressed highway. I think it's very interesting. It's the first time I've seen it and the other one is very interesting, the Salt City Circuit, but again it's the first time I've seen it," said Joanne Lenweaver, who commutes downtown.

"I am somewhat interested in the longer eastern tunnel that goes through bedrock. It seems to be less complications in terms of construction," said Stephen Waldron, a Syracuse resident.

"I'm frankly frightened with the notion of the tunnel. I think it's really inconceivable from a technical standpoint. We all know about the problems in Boston with the Big Dig," said Lisa Warnecke, a Syracuse resident.

The DOT will continue to dig deeper as they work toward a decision. They say the public comments help and will contribute to what happens next for the interstate.

The goal is to have this project underway by 2017. The DOT says they need to clear a number of hurdles to meet that deadline, including funding. The cost could run anywhere from $500 million to $2 billion. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP