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Category: I-81 Impacts

I-81 Project: Comparing the options

Written by admin  • February 1, 2018

In 2017, our team made an easy, clean and fact-based infographic that compares the options relative to the 81 project. It’s recently been updated to include information about the “Orange” option from the independent tunnel study recently completed.

I-81 Redesign: Next Steps for the Northside

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • February 15, 2017


Thank you to everyone who advocated for the Northside and asked the DOT to reexamine the negative impacts the I-81 redesign would have on our neighborhood! Your support gave weight to the discussions our neighborhood stakeholders group held with members of DOT and public officials. With the project put in a holding pattern to allow for an outside review of options, we are expecting DOT will develop more sensitive solutions for the highway north of I-690.

This project is still ongoing and we expect there may be times when we’ll need to inform the community and ask for your help. If you’re interested in these updates, join our “Save the Northside: I-81 Impacts” email list so that we can easily get back in touch with you!

For more information about our efforts during the I-81 redesign, click here.

New Public Meeting for I-81

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • December 13, 2016


Stakeholders on the Northside and Franklin Square continue to speak out about the impacts the I-81 redevelopment project will have on their neighborhoods. Recently, Syracuse.com published a story about the former National Biscuit Co. building.

“Developer Joshua W. Podkaminer and his partners spent $8.1 million in three years ago to convert the old National Biscuit Co. building into modern offices, including keeping the landmark chimney intact.

Now, the state Department of Transportation plans to widen Interstate 81 on the North Side of Syracuse, removing the nearby interstate ramp and eliminating Genant Drive in front of his building. And that landmark chimney that Podkaminer said cost $50,000 to $100,000 to restore?

The DOT told him “we’re not taking your building. But we’re taking down your smokestack,” Podkaminer said.

Podkaminer, other business owners and residents argue that the DOT’s plans for the North Side, which are part of the more than $1 billion project to redo I-81 in the city, are not necessary.”

You can read the entire article by Charley Hannagan here.

Senator DeFrancisco has also added his voice to the conversation, advocating for the tunnel option, originally rejected by NYSDOT because of the high cost. The Senator is calling for more input from the community and has organized a Public Meeting at Henninger High School on Wednesday, December 14, 6:30 PM. It is imperative that there’s a Northisde presence at this meeting to further emphasize the concerns of our neighborhood that will happen regardless of the tunnel, community grid, or viaduct options. In addition, NYSDOT will be at the meeting to answer questions from the community.

If you are unable to make this meeting, but would like your concerns to be heard, please fill out this I-81 Comment Sheet with the message:  “The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) must include an alternative for the area north of I-690 without the missing link flyovers, without the additional lanes, and that maintains the direct connection between the Northside and Armory Square.”

Wednesday at Noon: Join Us in Saying “NO” to the Plans for I-81

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • November 8, 2016


What: The Common Council’s Transportation Committee Meeting

When: Wednesday, November 9 at 12:00 PM

Where: City Hall in the Common Council Chambers, 233 E. Washington Street
The Northside is facing its biggest threat, one that will stop our progress and have devastating effects on us all as a community – the proposed Common Features of the I-81 Project.  This Wednesday the Common Council’s Transportation Committee will be meeting to hear comments and concerns on the proposals for the I-81 Project.

Join us and other stakeholders on the Northside and in Franklin Square to stand up to the Common Features section of NYSDOT’s I-81 rebuild and say “NO:” NO to the Flyovers,
NO to additional lanes north of I-690, and NO to realigning the Butternut Street bridge. This may be our last change to influence NYSDOT’s plans before the Environmental Impact Study is released.

If you are unable to attend, but still want to voice your concerns, fill out the I-81 Comment Sheet with the message:  “The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) must include an alternative for the area north of I-690 without the missing link flyovers, without the additional lanes, and that maintains the direct connection between the Northside and Armory Square.”


I-81 & The Northside: How You Can Help, Part 2

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • October 19, 2016

Editor’s note: To read Part 1 of “How You Can Help,” click here


To help add to our efforts in making sure that the interests of the Northside are respected, please fill out this I-81 Comment Sheet and send back to NYSDOT. In the comment section, please deliver the following message: “The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) must include an alternative for the area north of I-690 without the missing link flyovers, without the additional lanes, and that maintains the direct connection between the Northside and Armory Square.”

There is strength in numbers and we hope that our collective voices will be heard by NYSDOT and their plans for I-81 will be modified to eliminate many of the negative changes that would impact the Northside. If you aren’t familiar with these impacts, please watch the video below, “Repeating the Mistakes of the Past,” put together by Michael Stanton.


NYSDOT is also holding many different Neighborhood Meeting this fall to solicit feedback from the community. Anyone is welcome to attend one or more of these meetings to further express your concerns.


To learn more about NYSDOT’s plans for I-81, visit their website and view the revised presentation for their October 5th Open House.

I-81 & The Northside: How You Can Help, Part 1

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • October 17, 2016


The NY State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT)’s Open House earlier this month revealed new and revised plans for the reconstruction of I-81. Although great strides were made in refining some of the plans, the fact remains that the Common Features north of I-690 will have dramatic negative impacts on the Northside and Franklin Square communities.

These impacts were presented and discussed at a Public Meeting in September and will be reiterated for those who were unable to attend tomorrow during the Northeast Hawley Development Association‘s Neighborhood Meeting: October 18th, 6:00 PM at Housing Visions (116 Hawley Avenue). All are welcome.

If you are already well acquainted with all of the impacts, attending one of NYSDOT’s open forums will assist in the effort to see that the interests of our neighborhood are respected. Over the next several weeks NYSDOT is hosting a series of neighborhood meetings to present the most current plans and gather feedback:


We’re asking the Northside community to attend one or more of these meetings and deliver the following message to NYSDOT and their consultant team: “The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) must include an alternative for the area north of I-690 without the missing link flyovers, without the additional lanes, and that maintains the direct connection between the Northside and Armory Square.”

For more information about how you can help, stay tuned to our blog and Facebook.


Open Meeting on I-81’s Impact on the Northside: Recap

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • September 28, 2016


Over the last several months, neighborhood stakeholders have started meeting over concerns for the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) plans for the I-81 reconstruction. The group, made up of leaders from Northside UP, St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, the Mission Landing Home Owners Association, Northside Business Partnership, Northeast Hawley Development Association (NEHDA), ACTS Moving People Transportation Coalition, and American Institute of Architects (AIA), were especially interested in the “Common Features” of the plan that would impact Franklin Square and the Northside.

Last week, these concerns were brought to a public meeting at the Samaritan Center to get input from the community and urge DOT to explore a design that would not interrupt the revitalization of our neighborhoods. 150 residents, business owners, developers, and public officials came to the meeting to hear more about these “Common Features” that could demolish 19 buildings on the Northside and Franklin Square, including commercial, residential and historic properties.

Douglas Sutherland of  Franklin Properties, LLC presented on the features for the first half of the meeting. Comments and concerns from the audience followed, many of which emphasized the importance of preserving jobs, exploring other types of transportation, and staying involved in DOT’s process as plans move forward.

Our Director, Dominic Robinson, stressed, “We should be prioritizing quality of life over the ability to get out of the city.” He continued to explain that DOT is listening to the concerns raised and that the community should stay involved with the process.

Barry Lents, a member of the Moving People Transportation Coalition and one of DOT’s stakeholder advisory groups, urged everyone to attend DOT’s fall Open House event where many of the “Common Features” will be explored further.



Photo credit: Scott Willis / WAER News


In the days following the meeting, several news outlets interviewed stakeholders and reported on their concerns, including “Will I-81 rebuild destroy historic Syracuse buildings, block off North Side from city?” from Syracuse.com, “Syracuse’s Northside Stakeholders Say I-81 Project Would Significantly Impact Neighborhoods” from WAER, and “Northside Urban Partnership Director Says I-81 Proposal Would Hurt Neighborhood” from TWC News.

Yesterday, an editorial on Syracuse.com entitled “Community needs more details about I-81’s impact on Syracuse’s North Side,” further explored the concerns on the Northside and in Franklin Square: “Our own reporting has shown that the 690-to-81 ramps are likely to plow through 19 buildings, many of them historic, in the Hawley-Green, Little Italy and Franklin Square neighborhoods. That’s a whole lot more than DOT’s own estimate of two to five building acquisitions contained in its April 2015 scoping report.

This week DOT also released the details for their fall Open House event: Thursday, October 6th, 3:00 – 8:00 PM at the Oncenter (800 South State Street). At this meeting  Project Director Mark Frechette will give a brief project overview and project team members will answer questions. Attendees will also expect more information about the current status of the various alternatives under development, new traffic information showcasing travel times to various destinations, and anticipated property impacts for the different alternatives.


Concerns about the Northside were voiced three years ago when DOT first began conversations about I-81 and requested feedback from the community. At that time, representatives from the Northside drafted a letter to the editor that outlined their goals for the I-81 project, stating, “We on the North Side are proud to be a part of a resurgent Syracuse and are committed to continuing our progress – which is why the conversation about Interstate 81 is so important to us.” The public meeting was an extension of this conversation that will extend to the DOT’s Open House on October 6th.

I-81 Viaduct Project – Northside Meeting

Written by admin  • July 30, 2014

This Thursday, Northside residents will have two opportunities to experience the recommended alternatives for the I-81 Viaduct Project.

I-81 Viaduct Project Neighborhood Meeting

Northside Statement on 81 Challenge

Written by admin  • December 4, 2013

We’re very proud to have co-authored this statement on syracuse.com:

“The opportunity is here to make thoughtful, measured decisions about what we consider the standard for a great and vibrant city should be — and how we can reach those standards. Therefore, we are calling for a plan that solves the ’81 Challenge’ while contributing to the greater challenge of restoring vitality to our proud city.”




Read the full article at Syracuse.com/opinion. 

This op-ed was jointly submitted by the Northside Urban Partnership; St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center; Greater North Salina Business Association; The North East Hawley Development Association; Patricia Body, Chair of the Danforth/Pond/Butternut TNT Task Force; Davco Performance; Thanos Import Market; Open Hand Theater; Laci’s Tapas Bar; and the All Asian Market