Cuomo: New Group to Start from Scratch in I-81 Reconstruction Study

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Tens of thousands of cars travel on the Interstate 81 viaducts every day.

It seems like there's just as many opinions on how to replace them. And yet, Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to hear more.

"This is good news that he's listening and that they're going to flush those plans out fully," Salina Town Supervisor Mark Nicotra said.

At his State of the State address in Syracuse, Governor Cuomo called for an independent study of the project. The DOT has narrowed their alternatives to a community grid or viaduct replacement. Cuomo outlined five options. One is the community grid. Two others, a tunnel and a depressed highway, have previously been dismissed by the DOT. And two others, a combination of those ideas, would also keep a north-south highway through the city that many have advocated for. 

"We've always said that plan, or a plan like that, is the best of both worlds," Nicotra said. "It satisfies the different stakeholders that have talked about it."

The viaducts reach the end of their useful life this year, but if the governor's address is any indication, they could stand much longer than that.

"This is a project that will last 50, 70, 100 years, so if we're taking a little more time to make sure that we're doing the right project, then I think that's of value to the community," Nicotra said.

Congressman John Katko echoed that view.

"This project will impact our regional transportation infrastructure for generations to come, and it is critical that all options are carefully studied and that input is considered from around our community," Katko said.

Katko has not taken a position on a preferred alternative. After Cuomo's announcement, it may be a while before the state decides as well.

"We're a long way away from a decision, but it's important that all of the options we have been championing over the past couple of years are back on the table," Nicotra said.

TWC News reached out to the DOT today hoping to hear how this announcement would impact its timeline and how it would affect the dismissed options, but did not hear back.

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