State DOT considering moving roundabout further away from elementary school as part of I-81 plan

Future of 81

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The State Department of Transportation is considering alternative locations for the roundabout initially planned near Dr. King Elementary School as part of the I-81 redesign.

After two public hearings and nine neighborhood meetings, project managers said enough people expressed concern with how how close the circle would be to a school.

A meeting held right at the school in September was described by the DOT as one of the best and busiest.

Further discussions were had with the Mayor of Syracuse, the superintendent of the Syracuse City School District and its Board of Education.

I-81 Project Director Mark Frechette said, “What DOT heard is a roundabout at MLK is a fatal flaw. I think we can engineer some new things that will be acceptable to the community.”

The roundabout, designed to slow traffic coming from the Business Loop 81 highway entering the community grid of streets in Syracuse, was added to the plan in the 2021 design.

The DOT’s regional director said it’s premature to name specific alternative locations, but moving it north or south of the current plan is being considered.

Based on public comments, the DOT also said it would assess the proposed idea of an iconic skybridge to replace the I-81 viaduct, but flagged unspecified concerns based on already studying similar options.

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