Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- The future of Interstate 81 has been debated for years and in the near future, we could see some big changes.
Right now, there are a handful of options on the table, ranging from fixing the current infrastructure, to creating an underground tunnel for traffic. However, one of the options is a major concern for neighbors in the north.
“Fifty years ago, this was my family’s farmland and after the interstate was put in, a hotel was developed,” explained Tony Mangano who owns the Ramada in Liverpool.
Mangano says Interstate 81 keeps his hotel running and says options to change and update the aging highway could curb his business.
One of the options on the table would direct traffic around the city and northern suburbs and take the current elevated highway down to street level, creating a boulevard.
“That would take our customer right away from us, take them away from our front door and put them quite a few miles away and make it difficult to get in and out of Syracuse, in and out of our hotel,” Mangano continued.
Salina Town Supervisor Mark Nicotra is trying to bring the public up to speed on what could be major changes ahead.
“We want to get the information out to the public, so they know this could have an impact on their lives. They need to get informed and engaged in the process,” Nicotra said.
Public meeting have been held over the last few years and more are scheduled before a decision is made.
"We are spending a lot of time, money and resources to make sure as many people are aware of what's going on, and have a chance to vocalize their opinion on the record - what their opinion is and why,” said James D'Agostino, director of the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council (SMTC).
It’s up to the DOT to decide the best route. Work could begin on 81 in 2017.
An informational meeting is planned this Wednesday at the Liverpool Holiday Inn at 6 PM . A public meeting and presentation hosted by the SMTC will also be held on May 21 at the Oncenter from 3:30 - 8 PM.
To learn more about the I-81 Challenge, CLICK HERE