Some Central New York business leaders are advocating for some changes to be made regarding the community grid option to replace a portion of Interstate 81 through the city of Syracuse.

Centerstate CEO leaders are hoping to get people onboard with what they're calling "Community Grid Plus."

During a meeting the development organization had in Manlius on Tuesday, they revealed an extra 10 points to their plan that are not included in the current community grid option.

The plan, as outlined by Centerstate CEO, includes:

  • A comprehensive investment in modern public transit, including bus rapid transit, in parallel with any decision on I-81
  • More significant improvements to the I-481 corridor than those presented by NYSDOT, and urges other key enhancements, such as improvements to Bear Street in the Inner Harbor
  • An economic mitigation fund for affected stakeholders and municipalities to prepare for the projects potential impacts on local businesses
  • A locally-led revitalization commission to ensure the redevelopment projects are inclusive, with strong MWBE and local participation, and to encourage mixed-income projects
  • The highest quality design consistent with its urban setting
  • A coordinated regional approach to shift truck traffic away from towns, villages and our drinking water
  • Revisiting the elimination of Thruway tolls in the Syracuse area, among others.

Among the top concerns is the community grid’s plan for expanding Interstate 481 — which will be renamed I-81 — to three lanes between DeWitt to Cicero as it will serve as the main bypass around Syracuse. It also says more work will be done around the Inner Harbor and Bear Street corridors.

But those in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting stressed that it's not enough to just simply change the roadways themselves.    

"The advocacy is to look at a lot of the issues that have been raised,” Centerstate CEO’s David Mankiewicz said. “They are legitimate, they are important. We need something more than just a transportation solution to those issues."

The New York State Department of Transportation released a report last week stating it preferred the community grid option for revamping the I-81 viaduct, which would transform the portion of highway into a network of city streets and would cost an estimated $1.9 billion.