Get Involved

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. If you are unable to participate in one of these activities, you can always send us an email comment at or call at 315-422-5716 or write us at any time. You can also join our mailing list to receive email updates on public involvement opportunities as they arise. Also be sure to look for announcements on the What’s New page for the latest information on how to stay involved with The I-81 Challenge.

See the Resources box for a graphic explaining The I-81 Challenge process and a White Paper outlining the goals and objectives of The I-81 Challenge public participation effort.

Take our questionnaire

SMTC and NYSDOT invite you to complete our questionnaire and tell us:

  • How you use and experience I-81 now
  • How you feel I-81 affects the Syracuse region
  • What you want for the future of I-81

The questionnaire takes about 10 minutes to complete and will provide valuable information for the next phase of The I-81 Challenge. Your participation will help SMTC and NYSDOT make informed decisions about future transportation options in the Syracuse area.

Please click here or go to to complete this questionnaire.

Come to a public workshop

SMTC and the NYSDOT will be holding the first round of public workshops for The I-81 Challenge in early May. The workshops will feature interactive stations where you can explore the history of I-81 and the state of the highway today, share your vision for the future, and be part of the process for determining how we decide what options make sense for our region. The same information will be presented at each workshop, so drop in anytime and stay as long as you like.

Drop in at any time on any day:

  • Tuesday, May 3 from 4 pm - 8 pm
  • Wednesday, May 4 from 4 pm - 8 pm
  • Saturday, May 7 from 9 am - 12 pm


Oncenter Ballroom (lower level)
800 South State St.
Syracuse, NY

Click here for directions to the Oncenter.

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 now on Facebook!

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

If you're planning to attend a public workshop for The I-81 Challenge, you can informally RSVP through the Facebook event page. The event page also makes it easy for you to spread the word about these upcoming public workshops. Simply invite others in your Facebook network to the events.

Other efforts underway: Community Liaison and Municipal Liaison Committees

Early this year, 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. See the Resources box for a complete list of CLC members. 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. If you would like a printed copy of the focus group report, please contact the SMTC at 315-422-5716 or e-mail A printed copy is also available at the Central Branch of the Onondaga County Public Library (5th Floor).


Come to a public workshop

SMTC and the NYSDOT will be holding the first round of public workshops in early May.  Read More

I-81 Video Series

Check out our new video series about the history of I-81 and other urban highway projects across the US.  Read More

New Blog launched

SMTC launches Blog as another way to reach out to and inform the community about the latest project updates.   Read More

What do we know about I-81?

NYSDOT publishes the first major technical document of The I-81 Challenge, which analyzes existing physical conditions in the I-81 corridor.  Read More

Visit The I-81 Challenge Facebook page

The I-81 Challenge is now on Facebook. Don't forget to check out the Facebook event page for the upcoming public workshops.  Read More