New York Breaks Ground on Syracuse I-81 Viaduct Project

July 24, 2023
The project will reconnect neighborhoods severed by the I-81 viaduct.

Ground was broken Friday on the Interstate 81 Viaduct Project in Syracuse, New York, marking one of the largest construction projects ever undertaken by New York State in partnership with the federal government. 

The $2.25 billion project will create a Community Grid to reconnect downtown neighborhoods severed by the I-81 viaduct’s construction. The project will also enhance mobility and improve access to and from the interstate highway network and key destinations, including the downtown business districts, area hospitals and Syracuse University. It will also provide safe and ADA-accessible pedestrian and bicycle amenities throughout the project area.

The project, funded in part by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will upgrade a portion of Interstate 481, which would be re-designated as I-81, and construct the new Business Loop 81 along Almond Street to improve connections to downtown and other business districts.

The project also includes improvements to the sewer and stormwater management system that will reduce runoff and help prevent threats to the water quality of Onondaga Creek and Onondaga Lake.

Additional project features include:       

  • New interchange on I-690 at Crouse and Irving Avenues 
  • A reconfigured I-690 West Street interchange
  • A new northbound off-ramp from Business Loop 81 to Colvin Street
  • Bear Street improvements
  • Reconstruction of Almond Street, nearly 13 miles of new or reconstructed sidewalks, and 5 miles of pedestrian infrastructure
  • A new third lane on I-481 northbound between I-690 and the NYS Thruway (Interstate 90); and an improved Exit 3

As construction proceeds, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) will continue to inform of developments in soon-to-be-opened community outreach centers on the north and south sides of the City of Syracuse. 

“New York is the only state that has boldly embraced the urgent need to reconnect communities with a historic five simultaneous mega projects that will right the wrongs of the past,” Governor Hochul said at the ground breaking. “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.”   

Senior Advisor to President Biden and White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu said at the ground breaking, “I-81’s construction created an unjust and longstanding barrier to healthcare, economic and educational opportunities for families in Syracuse. Now, thanks to funding from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we’re righting these wrongs of the past, improving safety, revitalizing the area for economic development, and creating good-paying union jobs that can support a family. As we work together with Governor Hochul and federal, state, and local leaders to rebuild our infrastructure better than ever before, we are ensuring a safer, more equitable future for communities across New York.”

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Source: Finger Lakes Daily News