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Communities continue discussions on future of I-81

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Communities continue discussions on future of I-81
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What to do with aging Interstate 81 has been the topic of many formal and informal discussions in Syracuse. Thursday another community came together to discuss the impacts and what they would and would not like to see happen to the highway. Our Iris St. Meran attended the meeting hosted by the National Action Network and has more from residents who want to make sure their voices are heard.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse Housing Authority Coalition of Low Income Housing Chair John Hawkins said, "I find it interesting that if you talk to 10 different people, you're bound to find 10 different priorities."

A priority of John Hawkins is to be the voice for the residents he represents.He attends many meetings like the one hosted by the National Action Network Syracuse Chapter about the future of 81.

"Changing the footprints would be enormous. Everything would be affected from schools, what schools you would be attending, emergency vehicles, medical transportation, all kinds of things," said Hawkins.

DOT officials haven't made a decision on the future, but a number of ideas have being talked about including Reconstructing an elevated highway, Burying it under a tunnel, Relocating the highway and replacing it with a boulevard. A number of people at the meeting said they're not in favor of the latter.

"You have a lot of kids over here, and transporting across a four-lane boulevard. Just to say you're going to put up lights here and there that's not a guarantee of safety," President Pioneer Homes Tenant Organization Walter Brown said.

These discussions on the future of 81 have many people remembering talks of the future of the former Kennedy Square Apartments that were recently demolished.
Many residents felt their ideas, concerns and well being were disregarded and they don't want to see that happen with this project.

Former Kennedy Square Tenant Association President Lucy Johnson said, "330 families were displaced at a 90 day notice. They didn't have finances to find decent homes. They didn't have the transportation and it was in the middle of winter."
"It was just a disaster and I wouldn't want anyone to go through what we went through."

By continuing the dialogue and sharing those past experiences, they hope that officials take note of all the potential impacts these changes can have.

This wasn't an official DOT meeting but if you would like to send your comments to them, Friday is the last day to submit formal comments during the initial scoping comment period. Visit www.dot.ny.gov/i81opportunities for more information.

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