Get Involved

The I-81 Challenge planning study has concluded. The New York State Department of Transportation has initiated the environmental review process for the I-81 corridor; current information on the I-81 project can be found at

I-81 Focus Group PhotoOver the course of The I-81 Challenge, there will be many opportunities for the public to get involved. The process has been planned to be as inclusive as possible – to include outreach to residents across the county, from rural communities to urban ones, and include people of varying interests, opinions, and demographics.  The in-person opportunities will include workshops, surveys, open houses, and events which haven't even been designed yet.

Visit the Resources section of this website to view a graphic explaining The I-81 Challenge process. There you will also find two White Papers. White Paper #1 outlines the goals and objectives of The I-81 Challenge public participation effort. White Paper #2 describes and synthesizes findings from The I-81 Challenge Public Participation Program from its inception through the Fall of 2011.

Public Meetings

Thank you to everyone who participated in the third public meeting for The I-81 Challenge on May 21, 2013. Over 700 members of the Central New York community joined us to provide comments, concerns and ideas about the future of I-81. 

The meeting was hosted by the New York State Department of Transportation and the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council and it was the final public meeting before the environmental review phase begins.  It provided the opportunity to learn about the results of the I-81 Corridor Study, a study of the 12 mile I-81 corridor through the Syracuse region.

Click here to read the May 2013 Public Meeting Summary Report. On this page, you will also find the full summary report from the 2012 public meeting and the 2011 public workshops. 

Virtual Meeting

The NYSDOT and the SMTC launched the 2013 virtual meeting on May 21 and it was available 24/7 through June 11, 2013.  It was designed to replicate the in-person meeting with regard to content and opportunities to submit feedback and comments.  The public’s input has been a critical element of this study and we want to ensure that you stay informed about our progress and the next steps in the process.

Results from the virtual meeting are included in the May 2013 Public Meeting Summary Report.

Click here to review the 2013 virtual meeting, click here to review the 2012 virtual meeting and click here to review the 2011 virtual meeting. 

Transit Survey

As part of the transit system analysis for The I-81 Challenge, two transit-related surveys - one for riders and one for non-riders - were conducted at the May 2012 public meeting and in the weeks following the meeting. Click here to view the summary of the transit survey results.


Thanks to everyone who took time to complete the Spring 2011 Questionnaire for The I-81 Challenge. We heard from nearly 1,000 people! To find out what we learned, take a moment to read the Questionnaire Summary

Visit The I-81 Challenge Blog

The SMTC has launched a Blog for The I-81 Challenge as another way to reach out to and inform the community about the latest project updates. The Blog features project information, multimedia content, related news stories, and event announcements, among other things.

Visit The I-81 Challenge Facebook page

The I-81 Challenge is on Facebook!

Become a fan of The I-81 Challenge on Facebook today.

Other efforts underway: Community Liaison and Municipal Liaison Committees

In 2011, the SMTC and NYSDOT formed two new committees to strengthen communication channels throughout the Syracuse region. The Community Liaison Committee (CLC) is made up of various representatives from local community organizations whose missions cover a wide range of issues including the environment, social justice, local neighborhoods, education, civic engagement, urban design, business and economic development, and housing. The Municipal Liaison Committee (MLC) consists of representatives of municipalities within the SMTC planning area. While not decision-making bodies, both the CLC and MLC will play a critical role in The I-81 Challenge by:

-       Disseminating information about The I-81 Challenge to their constituents

-       Providing input on community concerns

-       Ensuring diverse points of view are represented

-       Commenting on materials and methods for public involvement

Past efforts

Between the fall of 2009 and the spring of 2010, the SMTC and NYSDOT held a series of 23 focus group meetings with a wide range of community stakeholders. This first round of focus groups was not meant to be all-encompassing, but included a sample of representatives from existing agencies and organizations from throughout the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County. The focus groups were designed as a starting point for a regional dialogue that will continue over the next several years. The initial set of focus group meetings yielded valuable information about the ways that community members use I-81, think about potential impacts, and want to be involved moving forward.

One suggestion that we heard was to hold more small group meetings throughout the community before convening any large public workshops. Based on this suggestion, we reached out to additional community groups such as the Sierra Club, Corcoran High School and the Cicero Chamber of Commerce, to provide background information on The I-81 Challenge, share the information we learned to date, and gather community input about the process.

See the Resources box for a summary of the focus group findings. A printed copy of the focus group report is available at the Central Branch of the Onondaga County Public Library (5th Floor).


Read White Paper #3

The SMTC publishes White Paper #3, which documents, describes, and synthesizes findings from The I-81 Challenge Public Participation Program from Fall 2011 until its conclusion in August 2013.   Read More

Find out what we heard at the May 2013 Public Meeting

The May 2013 Public Meeting Summary Report is now available.  Read More

Review the I-81 Corridor Study Report

Public comment period runs through July 8th.  Read More

Visit The I-81 Challenge Facebook page

The I-81 Challenge is on Facebook!  Read More

Read White Paper #2

White Paper #2 highlights community input to date.  Read More