Following I-81 Community Forum, Rep. John Katko Calls on NYS Department of Transportation to Answer Key Questions Raised by Community

Katko Highlights Need for Clarification Regarding Scoping Process

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK  – Following a meeting held by a bipartisan group of New York State legislators from the Central New York area Wednesday night at Henninger High School in Syracuse, in which many pointed questionswere asked of the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24) today called on NYSDOT to provide more specific details relating to the scoping process.  In a letter to NYSDOT Commissioner Matt Driscoll, Rep. Katko requested clarification on a number of community concerns relating to the remaining rebuild options.

Representative Katko, who has long stated that he plans to support whichever option for the I-81 rebuild that the community determines is best, joined over 200 Central New York residents Wednesday night to hear more about the project, the options still available from NYSDOT, and the concerns of local and state elected officials and members of the community.

U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24)

U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24)

“I applaud the Central New York delegation of the New York State Legislature for coming together in a bipartisan manner to ensure that our community’s concerns are heard on the Interstate 81 rebuild,” said U.S. Rep. John Katko.  “This meeting was an important opportunity for NYSDOT to clarify for our community a number of concerns regarding the scoping process.  However, as I listened to community members, business owners, and town supervisors from across Central New York, I am troubled that many of my constituents did not feel their concerns had been addressed by NYSDOT in this, or other forums.”

In his letter, Rep. Katko asks NYSDOT to provide greater detail on the following items:

  1. Whether NYSDOT has considered the potentially harmful and costly impact of increased heavy truck traffic on non-interstate roads.
  2. Clarification as to why certain options involving the building of an underground tunnel were eliminated based on cost, since no budget range has yet been made public.
  3. Why a tunnel, or a potential tunnel/boulevard hybrid option, has not been given the same amount of consideration as viaduct rebuild and boulevard option for a final, comprehensive analysis.
  4. Whether NYSDOT has considered public concerns expressed in past Auburn, Skaneateles, Salina, and Dewitt public meetings relating to the “Community Grid” alternative.
One of many proposals to reinvent Interstate 81

One of many proposals to reinvent Interstate 81

While NYSDOT is tasked with making a final determination on how to replace the aging I-81 viaduct, federal funds will provide for 80% of the project.  In Congress, Rep. Katko sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  Last year, as part of a long-term highway bill that he helped negotiate, Interstate 81 was designated a high priority corridor.

Rep. Katko concluded his letter by noting the critical benefits or consequences of this project for decades to come, and requested that the concerns of residents throughout the region be given full consideration, stating, “I have not advocated for one particular option to rebuild or upgrade Interstate 81. However, I believe that it is important that members of the community have access to all of the necessary information regarding the scoping process and potential rebuild options.”