Voices: Cicero Town Supervisor Supports Tunnel to Replace Interstate 81

I support the Tunnel with a grid built over it. I believe that the needs of all Central New York residents are best served by this option. Since 2013, polls and surveys of our residents show that 66% of Central New Yorkers want to keep Rte. 81’s current route.   If the Tunnel/Grid overlay option is rejected, the 19 Onondaga County Supervisors unanimously believe that rebuilding the Viaduct is the best alternative option to serve Central New York’s future.

With the tunnel/grid, through traffic efficiently moves north and south. I’m not convinced that creating a bumper to bumper boulevard with at least 14 traffic lights brings a community closer together. Add to that the pollution caused by idling cars and trucks at traffic lights and the increased noise with bumper to bumper gridlock. Are the true costs of improving Rte. 481 and Rte. 690 to accommodate the thousands of diverted vehicles per day included in the Grid only option price tag?

Have we adequately considered the economic impact of a grid only option on our neighboring communities and especially the Town of Salina with its gas stations, restaurants and hotels placed right off the I81 exit?  What will be the economic impact on Destiny USA with its 5000 employees and its own I81 exit?  A serious study needs to be done.

It is estimated that a Tunnel/Grid could cost 3.6 billion dollars.  Remember that nearly 4 billion dollars was spent on the Mario Cuomo Bridge (Tappan Zee Bridge) in New York City. How many more billions of dollars will the Governor spend on New York City subways? Aren’t we in Upstate deserving of the same kind of consideration?

Community Grid option (click on image to enlarge)

What are the effects that a Grid only option would have on public safety?  It is said that it could take an additional 3 to 6 minutes to drive an ambulance or rescue vehicle to the hospital in ideal conditions (i.e. no accidents or snow delays). Is that acceptable?  Tell that to your family member who’s having a heart attack.  All of the concerns surrounding this project need to be addressed before a decision is rendered by the State.

Please note that Congressman Katko and Senator Schumer have said that they would push for the lion’s share of the monies needed in Washington if we can come together with a consensus.  Build the tunnel.


Mark Venesky

Cicero Town Supervisor