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Town of Skaneateles enters I-81 discussion

Passes resolution opposing a boulevard redesign of the interstate

Though it doesn’t pass through Skaneateles a redesign of Interstate 81’s passage through Syracuse could potentially affect the community negatively.

The Skaneateles Town Board passed a resolution at its May 16 meeting providing its official position on the future of Interstate 81 in the city of Syracuse.

The resolution states that reconstructing the highway as a boulevard with traffic lights could cause extra trucks and commercial traffic to come through suburban communities, including Skaneateles, particularly on routes 41, 41A and 20.

It reads: “It is the opinion of the Skaneateles Town Board that unintended consequences will arise from creating any significant changes to the configuration of I-81, particularly creating a boulevard that halts traffic flow with a series of traffic lights, and will likely alter the flow of heavy commercial traffic and increase truck traffic through the town of Skaneateles via State Routes 41, 41A and 20 compromising the safety and well-being of its residents and negatively impacting their quality of life.”

The resolution was sent to the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council and the New York State Department of Transportation who are currently in the process of gathering information and deciding the future of the 1.4-mile bridge, or viaduct, through downtown Syracuse.

The viaduct has been in place since the 1960s and needs to be replaced soon due to age. Options that the DOT and SMTC are considering include a boulevard with stoplights, another elevated highway or a bigger iconic bridge.

Trucks and commercial traffic coming through Skaneateles has been an issue for the town in the past and they have tried to discourage it when possible. Going around Syracuse rather than through it is a potential way for trucks driving north toward Interstate 90 to save money on tolls councilor Steve McGlynn said.

“Primarily the trucks are shortcutting to the thruway from Homer/Cortland to head west, and are not servicing any businesses in Skaneateles or Auburn. They are just cutting across to cut time or expenses,” McGlynn said.

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