‘We have to have community grid plan’ for I-81, governor tells NewsChannel 9 in first local interview

Transition of Power

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — In a one-on-one interview with NewsChannel 9, Governor Kathy Hochul said she supports the current State DOT plan to take down the Interstate 81 viaduct.

When asked about the lack of agreement in the community, she said, “We need to get a project done… I have seen too many communities where there’s such hesitation and debate.”

The plan, which brings down the aging 1.2-mile viaduct from MLK to near I-690 and reroutes through-traffic around the city on I-481, has been endorsed as the best option by state transportation engineers for more than two years and just this summer, supported by the Federal Highway Administration.

“I lived on this campus,” Governor Hochul said, referring to her time as a student at Syracuse University. “I know there was a huge disconnect between the University and Downtown because of this artificial barrier. We have to have community grid plan, in my opinion. I’m going to continue working with our DOT to get it done and get it done soon.”

Hochul’s predecessor, former Governor Andrew Cuomo, budget $800 million to get construction of the community grid design started next year.

Hochul sat down with NewsChannel 9 after her tour of the New York State Fairgrounds. Not new to the Fair, Hochul made time for a sausage sandwich, the butter and sand sculptures and 25-cent milk.

In the conversation, Hochul talked about her time as a student at Syracuse University.

Enrolling in 1986, Hochul led a boycott of the overpriced University bookstore, pushed the administration to divest in companies doing business with South Africa’s racist regime and fought for the new Dome to be named for Ernie Davis instead of Carrier.

“It’s just a place I love,” said Governor Hochul. “It’s a place where I really fomented my passion for public service… It was a place where I learned activism and challenging the status quo.”

She’s challenged that status quo numerous times through her career, ultimately becoming the first woman governor in New York State history.

Hochul said, “I really look back at this community as a place that propelled me to where I am today.”

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