Federal Highway Administration details timeline of next steps for I-81 decision in call with Rep. Katko

Future of 81

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – The latest version of the design plan to replace the Interstate 81 viaduct through Downtown Syracuse is expected to be released within a month, according to new information shared with Congressman John Katko from the Federal Highway Administration.

A spokesperson for Katko tells NewsChannel 9 that the congressman spoke with the Acting Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration on Tuesday, when an updated timeline for next steps was discussed.

The current plan, in which New York State’s Department of Transportation explains why a community grid of ground-level streets is the best option to replace the raised highway, is being reviewed by the Federal Government.

On the call, Katko learned that an updated plan, formally called the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), is expected out in mid-July.

That release will trigger a formal public comment period, but the exact period of time has not been released.

During that period, the Federal Highway Administration and New York State Department of Transportation will partner to host a public hearing in August. A date has not been scheduled.

After hundreds of meetings and public sessions, comments made at the formal hearing become part of the record that helps guide the decision making process.

Those comments will be taken into consideration and addressed in the final Environmental Impact Statement, according to Katko’s office.

Katko expects a record of decision early next year.

Previously, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh told NewsChannel 9 that “the grid is going to happen.”

People who live in suburbs around Syracuse fear that cutting off high-speed access through the city will cut off their communities or increase traffic along I-481, which is where the high-speed traffic will be rerouted if I-81 comes down.

Governor Andrew Cuomo had already committed that his DOT would begin construction in 2022. The governor budgeted $800 million for the project to begin.

Katko’s office plans to hold a telephone town hall regarding the I-81 issue in the weeks to come, but hasn’t scheduled a date.



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