Gov. Andrew Cuomo says in a statement that the FY 2022 Enacted State Budget includes $800 million toward the first phase of construction on the long-awaited I-81 viaduct replacement project.
The project will remove the existing elevated structure separating the City of Syracuse by constructing an integrated community grid. The project will also construct new shared-use paths for pedestrians and bicyclists and enhance access to public transportation services within the downtown core.
The State Department of Transportation has been working with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration to finalize the draft Environmental Impact Statement for this transformative project and is on schedule to release the DEIS for public comment and to conduct a public hearing later this summer. After federal concurrence is achieved, the project will break ground in 2022.
The project aims to reverse the classic 1950s planning blunder that separated the heart of the city by providing new opportunities for inclusion and equity afforded by the construction of the Community Grid, which the State Department of Transportation has determined will best meet the objectives of the project. The community grid will provide a boulevard-like setting that will support safe and ADA accessible pedestrian and bicycle amenities throughout the project.
Pending federal concurrence, plans call for phase 1 of the project to include work on the northern and southern sections of Business Loop 81, work on I-690 over Crouse and Irving avenues, and the conversion of I-481 to I-81 including a number of road and bridge projects along the corridor.
The $1.9 billion project will enhance vehicle access from the interstate to key destinations within the community grid, including the downtown business district, hospitals and Syracuse University. It will relieve existing traffic congestion issues on I-81, the Harrison St./Adams St. interchange and Almond St., by constructing a Business Loop 81 along Almond St. to improve connections to downtown and other business districts, effectively disbursing traffic at controlled intersections throughout the city.