Experts, Advocates Question Logic of Using Micron to Keep the I-81 Viaduct Standing

Posted on February 15, 2023

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Local and state leaders are predicting that hundreds of thousands of people will come to Central New York thanks to Micron. Those estimates factored into a State Supreme Court Judge's decision to put the brakes on plans to bring down the I-81 viaduct that cuts through the heart of the City of Syracuse.

Judge Gerard Neri ruled Monday that while the State DOT can move forward with contracts and construction in the first 3 phases of the I-81 project, which starts with changes to I-481, nothing can happen to the viaduct until the state updates its Environmental Impact Statement to include three things. The first is how air pollution over I-481 would change with anticipated changing traffic patterns; the second, a study on stormwater run off into Onondaga Lake and the third, the impact of Micron.

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The Judge's decision and filings from petitioners "Renew 81 for All" referenced projections from Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon that the community will grow by 200,000 in 20 years, as well as figures from CenterState CEO that 125,000 will come in the next decade.

"I know and appreciate how big micron is and what it will mean, but in terms of the viaduct i don't think its going to have a very big impact at all," said CenterState CEO's Dave Mankiewicz.

Mankiewicz is the company's senior vice president for research policy and planning. He's been involved in studying I-81 and alternatives for the viaduct for 15 years, and is frustrated that there are somehow still questions surrounding whether or not there's a better option than the Community Grid.

"We study things here for so long. Fifteen years. And just about every possible option to move that traffic through the city has been studied extensively, all different types of tunnels, bridges. After fifteen years we have a nice pile of studies and we don't have a decision yet on what we're going to do. As a community, we need to get on with it," said Mankiewicz.

He said that CenterState CEO's 125,000 people projection is for all five counties in Central New York, and said that the idea that a significant number of them would ever have needed the 1.4 miles of viaduct downtown for daily use is questionable at best.

Read more from CNY Central, here.

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