“My greatest concern has been and continues to be for the people who live closest to the viaduct,” Mayor Walsh told the State Department of Transportation at a virtual hearing
Mayor will speak Wednesday at in-person meeting; info on how you can participate at https://webapps.dot.ny.gov/i-81-viaduct-project-public-outreach
The Community Grid is the right alternative for Syracuse, Central New York and all of New York State. While there are still elements of the project that must be improved, that fact remains clear.
I want to thank the DOT for thoroughly studying the options for this project. With the Community Grid, the DOT is seizing the transformational moment before us and creating the best framework to correct the historical wrongs that hurt city residents.
I also want to thank the DOT for addressing the comments and concerns it has received during this process. That work – of listening and responding – must continue.
My team and I are reviewing the DEIS. We are talking with key stakeholders, attending community meetings, and working with the DOT. We will file detailed written comments as part of this process. Today, let me cover four key points:
First, my greatest concern has been and continues to be for the people who live closest to the viaduct. They have borne the biggest burden, and their neighborhoods must be protected and invested in. I am concerned about the current design and position of the roundabout at STEAM at Dr. King School. We cannot put our children at risk for decades to come. I request that you listen to the concerns on this critical element of the project and present alternative solutions in the final environmental impact statement.
The roundabout is one key concern but not the only one. The DOT must deliver a comprehensive approach that addresses pedestrian, bicycle, public transit and parks amenities. Mitigating health and construction impacts are critically important. As I noted earlier, the City will provide written comments on other areas of concern regarding the project impact in city neighborhoods.
Second, I appreciate the DOT’s inclusion of a Land Use Working Group for surplus land that will become available as a result of the project. This group must include the City, the school district, neighborhood representatives, environmental justice communities, economic opportunity and development organizations, and other stakeholders. Land use is a priority concern for the City and its residents, so there must be local control of decision making regarding surplus land.
Third, I challenge the State to aim high on local hiring. The City and DOT has worked well together in planning to ensure city residents – especially women, people of color and veterans – get equitable opportunities for jobs and careers from the project. The most critical stages are happening now and I urge the state to set aggressive goals in its application to the Federal Highway Administration for local hiring and commit to even more aggressive programs to train and prepare city workers.
Fourth, I commend the DOT for addressing concerns of our suburban neighbors, including through the economic analysis of northern suburbs and the proposed improvements to Exit 3 on Interstate 481 and Lyndon Corners to the east. I urge you to continue to address these concerns, especially to the north and south of the city where we have the opportunity to reduce traffic problems that have long concerned those communities.
In closing, we know the pandemic continues to create uncertainty. The DOT set up a process to ensure everyone can participate. To my fellow city residents and all of Central New York, please ensure you are heard.