Another study, another round of public comments. It may seem like the decision-making process on the future of the elevated Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse will never end.
An end is in sight, even if it’s still far off. Transportation officials say they hope to make a decision on whether to rebuild the viaduct, divert it around the city or tunnel it underground, in 18 months to two years.
In the meantime, transportation planners will take the more than 500 public comments they’ve received in recent weeks and incorporate them into an environment impact statement. Another round of public comments end Tuesday.
"They run the gamut," said NY DOT spokesman Beau Duffy. "People expressing support for one idea or another, or making suggestions about things that should be considered."
Duffy says they take all comments and alternative suggestions seriously and weigh them against the project goals.
"What we’ve been hearing publicly will be reflected in the comments. But this is what we want. The public plays a significant role in the environmental impact statement process."
The mile-and-a-half long elevated viaduct is beginning to crumble and near the end of its usable lifespan.
The final environmental report should be done around the end of the year, Duffy said.
"When the final scoping report comes out, it will signify the end of what is really the first phase of the environmental review process," he said. "Scoping is when we look at different ideas and weigh them against the project’s goals."
Then it will be time for more public meetings and comments.