Changes to I-81 will impact ambulance service: NAVAC

Future of 81

NORTH SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – The benefit of I-81 as it stands now is the highway’s quick access to most hospitals in the City of Syracuse.

With the state’s preferred option released Monday evening, that could change in the future.

“I think it’s going to have an impact, whether it will be negative or positive time will tell,” said NAVAC Director of Operations Evan Grenier.

While the difference in transport times likely won’t put a life in danger, Grenier said the state’s suggestion of a community grid will mean ambulance companies like NAVAC in North Syracuse will have to make adjustments to their main line of transport into Syracuse.

“We do about 7,000 calls a year and about 5,500 of those are transports into the city,” said Grenier.

NAVAC patients are transported to all five hospitals in the City of Syracuse. Grenier said transports to St. Joseph’s Hospital, their most frequent destination, will likely remain the same, as will calls to the Syracuse VA, Upstate University Hospital and Crouse Hospital.

But where times could be affected is farther south of the city. Grenier said it’s still too early to tell how transports to Community General will be affected without a high-speed viaduct.

“The state of the roads are in pretty poor shape right now so if they make improvements to that I see it as a benefit,” said Grenier.

With the project many years away from being completed, the more immediate concern for NAVAC staff is the five years of construction. Fortunately, that’s something ambulance services deal with on a regular basis.

“We’ll adapt, I mean obviously they’re going to have alternate routes for us planned out we’re just going to have to take the whatever surface streets they have. we’ll get through it, but it may not be as smooth as it is currently,” said Greiner.

His preferred option would be to maintain some sort of high-speed viaduct through Syracuse.

On Monday, Upstate Medical University, the largest hospital and the largest employer in Syracuse, endorsed the state’s preferred community grid.

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I-81 Resources: 

View the full New York State Department of Transportation DEIS report here. 

Click here for full renderings of the proposed community grid.

If you want to weigh in on the report, you can write comments to:

Mark Frechette, PE, Project Director

New York State Department of Transportation, Region 3

333 East Washington Street

Syracuse, NY 13202

You can email comments to

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