Editor's Notebook January 2023

You can think about it … just don't do anything on it.

That's essentially what a New York State Supreme Court judge told the New York State Department of Transportation recently when he modified his earlier injunction to halt work on the I-81 project in Syracuse.

The justice has now allowed NYSDOT to do the necessary paperwork to award the first construction contract for the $2.25 billion project, but the agency is still prohibited from doing any physical work until a lawsuit aimed at blocking the I-81 project is resolved. Initially, the judge had prohibited NYSDOT from even doing paperwork to be ready for the project until the lawsuit, filed by Renew 81 for All, returns to court in mid-January.

Former Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler has led the Renew 81 fight against NYSDOT's plans to replace the I-81 viaduct through Syracuse with a street-level community grid. His group claims the plan would increase pollution and traffic jams, among other problems, and instead advocates replacing the viaduct or building a "sky bridge" through the city. NYSDOT approved the community grid plan earlier this year after 14 years of study, but the agency hailed the judge's recent modified ruling, saying that it will save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars if it were to miss a January 14 deadline to complete the first contract.

So, it'll all come down to mid-January. Renew 81 wants the community grid plan scrapped for an alternative and NYSDOT says no way … we want the case dismissed. The judge will decide. Regardless of which side of the highway people reside on with this lawsuit, most would agree the project is nonetheless necessary because the interstate serves as an essential travel corridor for the central New York region, especially the downtown Syracuse area. Let's hope the project moves forward one way or the other. What a way to start the New Year.

Have a great, happy, healthy and successful 2023.

But one last very important item: please see page 54. The village of Camden DPW was recently hit by a massive fire that destroyed its facility and many equipment items. On this page you can learn details of the disaster and contact information if you are able to assist them in any way. I'll repeat info here: Superintendent Jeff Heller at camdendpw245@yahoo.com or contact the village of Camden at 315/245-0560 or the Camden garage at 315/245-2590. P


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