New York State Officially Starts on I-81 Viaduct Project

Governor Kathy Hochul (D) (above) recently hosted a ground breaking event for the Interstate 81 Viaduct Project in Syracuse for federal, state, and local officials – formally launching “one of the largest and most ambitious construction projects ever undertaken” by the Empire state.

[Above photo by the New York Governor’s Office]

Overseen by the New York State Department of Transportation, the $2.25 billion I-81 Viaduct Project will create a “community grid” to reconnect downtown neighborhoods severed by the I-81’s elevated roadways; correcting what the governor called in a statement “an enduring injustice that has disproportionately impacted residents of color” in Syracuse for decades.

This project – the result of more than a decade of planning and community engagement, NYSDOT noted – will also create a new Business Loop 81, which will pass through the city distributing traffic along the way, and make other improvements that will improve mobility, enhance safety, create new recreational opportunities and promote economic growth throughout all of Central New York.

Gov. Hochul. Photo by the New York Governor’s Office.

“New York has boldly embraced the urgent need to reconnect communities with a historic five simultaneous mega projects that will right the wrongs of the past,” Gov. Hochul said. “As a central part of our efforts, the Interstate 81 Viaduct Project will serve as a national example of how thoughtful infrastructure can bring people together, promote growth, and increase prosperity for all communities. With this groundbreaking, we are beginning to weave back together the neighborhoods that were torn apart decades ago – healing the wounds that have festered for far too long and creating more livable, affordable, and sustainable communities.”

“The curtain is closing on outdated infrastructure that divides communities and the door is opening to a 21st century transportation network that fosters improved livability, economic vitality, and sustainability for all the communities of Central New York,” added NYSDOT Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez.

“This once-in-a-lifetime transportation investment project will provide new opportunities for growth, jobs and economic development throughout the entire region – investing in people and positively lifting the community for generations to come,” she said.

Among the many features of the I-81 Viaduct Project are:

  • The reconstruction of Almond Street, including the addition of nearly 13 miles of new or reconstructed sidewalks; two miles of new or reconstructed shared-use paths for bicycles and pedestrians; a one-mile cycle track; and nearly two miles of new or reconstructed shared vehicle and bicycle lanes.
  • A new full interchange on I-690 at Crouse and Irving Avenues to provide more direct connections to hospitals, employment centers and educational facilities on University Hill.
  • Improvements to the roadway network’s sewer and stormwater management system to reduce runoff and help prevent overflows during heavy rains.
  • A new third lane on I-481 northbound between I-690 and the NYS Thruway (Interstate 90) and an improved Exit 3.
  • A reconfigured I-690 West Street interchange and a new northbound off-ramp from Business Loop 81 to Colvin Street.

Major construction is now underway on the first of multiple contracts planned for the project. Work on “Contract 1” consists of reconstructing the existing Interstate 481/I-81 northern interchange to the re-designated I-81 and Business Loop 81, while also converting portions of I-481 to the new I-81 and making several road and bridge improvements along the corridor.

The work on the recently-awarded “Contract 2” includes the conversion of the southern interchange of I-481/I-81. Together these two contracts are essential to maintaining a high speed interstate connection with national and international north-south trade routes from Tennessee to the Canadian border.

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