New York State has awarded the first construction contract for a project to change Interstate 81 in and around the city of Syracuse, but work cannot begin due to a lawsuit brought by opponents of the community grid plan.
David Smith, regional director of the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), said Friday that the state comptroller’s office signed off on the $296.4 million contract awarded to Salt City Contractors.
According to Smith, the Salt City Contractors’ work will focus on rebuilding the I-81 and Interstate 481 interchange into Business Loop 81 and I-81. Parts of I-481 will be expanded to three lanes to the Kirkville Road interchange.
It is unknown when construction will begin. A state Supreme Court judge has issued an injunction that prevents the state from proceeding with plans to tear down the I-81 viaduct in Syracuse and replace it with a street-level grid.
Renew 81, a group that opposes the community grid plan that has been approved by federal and state regulators, brought the lawsuit against the project. The opponents believe that the viaduct should be replaced or that a “skybridge” should be constructed to allow for high-speed traffic to continue north and south through the city.
The NYSDOT endorsed the community grid after considering other alternatives, including rebuilding the viaduct. Before opponents of the grid wanted a large bridge, they wanted the state to look at the possibility of a tunnel to maintain traffic flow through the city. The NYSDOT examined a tunnel option but it was too expensive, costing nearly $5 billion to build.
Source: The Daily Star