Communities near I-81 consider the effects of new construction

Local News

(WSYR-TV) — Engineers say the aging viaduct that runs right alongside many communities in Syracuse needs to be replaced, but neighbors have concerns the work, and the new road system could bring problems to their back yard.

“Everyone is really concerned. It’s an issue that’s been going on in their neighborhood and a lot of times the first question is: am I going to lose my home?” said Lanessa Chaplin, project counsel for the Central New York Civil Liberties Union.

Areas in and around I-81 have been their office for the past several months. She and director Yusuf Abdul-Qadir have been canvassing neighborhoods, educating those who might be impacted the most about the reconstruction of the viaduct.

“What’s going to happen to those irrespective to what the DOT says isn’t a requirement to displace people? What is going to happen with the construction debris and people’s ability to live throughout that process?” said Abdul-Qadir.

As it is now, the highway is in the backyard of many of Syracuse’s low-income residents. According to the CDC, living near a highway and being exposed to traffic pollution is linked to asthma, heart and lung disease, and childhood cancer.

As of now, no residents will be permanently displaced and no communities will be demolished.

“We have to be very intentional in how we move forward to make sure we don’t repeat past mistakes,” said Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh. “Land-use is a critical part of this discussion. We’ve been talking to the DOT, and as the grid moves forward, acreage will be freed up. That’s valuable real estate. We need to make sure that everyone in the community is benefitting from that opportunity. And not just a select few.”

That’s why the CNY Civil Liberties Union leaders will continue their mission of ensuring a fair process and making sure everyone’s voice is heard … so that history, doesn’t repeat itself.

For more information on the CNY Civil Liberties Union, click here.

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For more local news, follow Jennifer Sanders on Twitter @JSandersNC9

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