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I-81 Questions for NYSDOT
Date:  9/16/2013
ArticleType:  Press Release

Read Rob Simpson's Editorial, I-81: Opportunity of a Lifetime
Read the Press Release, CenterState CEO Issues Principles for the Future of I-81

CenterState CEO's I-81 Questions for NYSDOT:

  1. At this point, are proposals other than a bridge or boulevard (such as an underground tunnel) still being considered?
  2. What will NYSDOT do to assure that open lines of communication will be maintained so the community understands what is going on in the process?
  3. What role, and how much influence, will the community have in the selection of the preferred alternative?
  4. What level of detail will NYSDOT release as part of the process? Will the public be able to see all of the data by which NYSDOT makes its decision? Will there be a public website? What role will SMTC play? 
  5. Is the proposed boulevard capable of carrying the traffic that is likely to operate over it? 
  6. If a boulevard is the preferred solution, how much traffic will divert to other routes? How much (if any) additional traffic will divert to I-481? 
  7. Does NYSDOT have any projection for how traffic will split among the various north/south routes through downtown? Is it possible that a significant percentage of the traffic will divert to Townsend Street, State Street, Salina Street, Warren Street or West Street? Does the NYSDOT model indicate dispersal of the traffic across multiple north/south routes? 
  8. What impact would such a diversion have on the existing city north-south streets? Would they still function at acceptable levels of service? 
  9. Would the construction of the boulevard have any other impacts such as on pedestrian accessibility or parking downtown? 
  10. If a boulevard was no longer part of the interstate highway system, how will the maintenance be accomplished? Who will pay for it? 
  11. Are the proposed changes to Erie Boulevard and Water Street as a one way couplet required to support the boulevard? This runs against the trend to turn more streets into two way traffic. 
  12. If an elevated viaduct becomes the proposed solution, how much wider, and/or straighter will it have to be in order to meet USDOT standards? 
  13. Will USDOT permit any mitigation to its standards in order to accommodate the viaduct moving through the city?
  14. What properties will have to be acquired in order to accommodate an elevated highway? 
  15. What buildings will have to be demolished in order to accommodate an elevated highway? 
  16. How many, and which businesses are likely to be displaced? How many residents will be displaced? 
  17. Whichever solution is adopted, will there be a need to acquire more property or to demolish buildings in order to construct the boulevard or the highway? 
  18. What will NYSDOT do to assure that the design of the solution will be of the highest quality? What role will the community have in the aspects of that design process?
  19. What role will mass transit play in the solution? How will NYSDOT evaluate the cost and benefits of mass transits aspects of the solution? 
  20. A lot of concern has been expressed by all communities about the impact of truck traffic. Will there be a separate component of the NEPA study that will look at truck traffic now traveling on I-81 and its impact on the community? 
  21. How will NYSDOT analyze the potential health impacts of the project? Will NYSDOT have a medical team engaged in the NEPA evaluation? How will the relationships between the environment and health be evaluated in NEPA? 
  22. What will the state do to mitigate any losses that might happen to a private property owner, tenant or resident as a result of the project? 
  23. How long will the construction take? What will be done to mitigate the impacts on businesses, tenants and residents during the construction period? 
  24. If a tunnel is considered, what are its eminent domain impacts? 
  25. In your comparison of options for I-81’s replacement, a depressed highway poorly in Social and Economic impacts. How did you reach this conclusion? 
  26. In the same comparison, the tunnel scored very poorly in its Social impact. What were the reasons for this outcome? 
  27. Will the state soon carry out a similar analysis regarding I-690? What is its condition? What is the length of its useful life beyond that of I-81? 
  28. What will be the most important factors in making the decision regarding the final selection of an option? What criteria will be used? How will those factors be weighted? 
  29. Some of the largest investments in the region are taking place in downtown Syracuse, University Hill and the Syracuse Lakefront. How will this growth be accounted for in the traffic model? What will the state do to assure that this growth will continue in spite of the construction? What is the likely impact of more residents moving into the center city? 
  30. When will the community have a complete analysis of the projected costs for the project? To date, many important factors such as acquisition costs, have not been included in the cost estimates for the project? 
  31. What will be the role of technology in a new segment built to replace Interstate-81? Can it be a “smart highway”? Can it incorporate intelligent systems? Materials have been developed from which highways can generate their own heat (to melt snow) or generate clean energy (generally by covering them with a layer of solar cells), or to have sensors embedded in them. How can we assure that this is a highway that will be built for the next 75 years, and will not be obsolete in a decade? 
  32. By what percentage would traffic on the current viaduct have to be reduced in order to safely have only four lanes of automobile traffic traversing Syracuse on the Route 81 of the future? 
  33. Is it possible to reroute all truck traffic off from the portion of Route 81 that traverses the center of the Syracuse?
  34. Will an option be studied that calls for the creation of three or four improved access points into and out of Syracuse for commuters and the restriction of the Route 81 viaduct area through the City to through traffic alone? 
  35. Will there be any new land made available for development if a six-to-eight lane boulevard is constructed in the same general area where the viaduct stands today? 
  36. Many of the scenarios in the SMTC report call for increasing traffic on the West Street arterial. What method will be used in the EIS to weigh New York’s sunken costs in the West Street arterial against the negative impact on the Near Westside neighborhood? 
  37. Do we know from previous studies if there is a mass transit scenario for central New York with a high likelihood of success?