The 39-day public commentary period in the I-81 debate ended Tuesday, Sept. 2. Now, the New York State Department of Transportation will draft an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This document will analyze the impact of construction, noise and vibration, historic and cultural resources, socioeconomic conditions and more. It will also taken into account how the change will affect the character of our community.
There is no information available yet about when the study will be completed, but for small projects an EIS can take up to a few months. For large-scale city projects – a few years. I would call this a large project! When it’s ready, the document will be distributed to various government agencies and other locations for community review.
But whenever the EIS is done, here’s what happens next:
- Another 45-day commentary period opens up to the community.
- A public hearing will be held for oral testimony.
- A final study will be released once responses and revisions are made to the EIS.
- A Record of Decision will be made 30 days after the study is completed.
From Discussion to Design to Decision
Here’s some background: I-81 has been the subject of debate since it was completed in 196? The elevated highway reaches the end of its useful life in 2017 when Syracuse will be forced to be concretely on its way to serious changes. Now that NYSDOT has collected this latest round of public opinions and comments, the process will go on hold until the EIS is released.
Syracuse University’s daily student newspaper The Daily Orange reported that this previous public comment period resulted in many ideas, but little agreement on the best option for change. (NYSDOT released a 16-option plan in May. That was narrowed down to six in June’s scoping report. The EIS will look at only two).
So for now, don’t hold your breath… this process might not move as quickly as traffic on I-81.