Future of 81: What you need to know

Future of 81

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — After the New York State Department of Transportation released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) of I-81, in which they recommend the community grid as the preferred alternative, Governor Cuomo and Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh have commented on the plan.

“The world is watching Syracuse to see how transportation projects can strengthen communities and create opportunity for people. We are one step closer to showing them.”

We have to ensure the people who live, work and go to school closest to the viaduct are protected and that neighborhoods that were harmed by the highway receive investment without community displacement. Local control and influence on land use will create the best long-term outcome for the community.

We need to listen to concerns that exist outside of the City and make sure they are addressed in the final project. I am ready to partner with communities all around Syracuse to ensure their interests are considered. I urge people across the region to learn the facts about the project and to participate in the public input process.

Mayor Ben Walsh

The project will exceed $2 billion in spending.

The NYSDOT and Federal Highway Administration created the DEIS after conducting outreach with the public and stakeholders throughout Central New York.

Governor Cuomo said that the NYSDOT received more than 1,000 comments that were included in the version of the document that was submitted to the Federal Highway Administration for its now completed review.

Members of the public now have 60 days to comment on the DEIS and can also attend a virtual public hearing on August 17 or an in-person public hearing on August 18.

“The Interstate 81 project represents a historic opportunity to correct one of the most damaging planning blunders of the 20th Century and this is a major step toward making this a reality. I urge all interested parties to review this document and offer their thoughts as we continue to engage the community and work toward a final outcome that reconnects neighborhoods, enhances safety and mobility in and around Syracuse and improves quality of life for the entire region,” said New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Department of Transportation officials will be highlighting a number of project features in the community in the weeks leading up to the public hearings on August 17 and 18. 

According to the governor, additional project features that NYSDOT will highlight in detail in the coming weeks will include:

  • A Gateway to the City at the entrance to Business Loop 81 featuring a roundabout at Business Loop 81 and Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive
  • A new off-ramp from Business Loop 81 northbound at Colvin Street
  • Bear Street improvements
  • Reconstruction of Almond Street to include two 12-foot-wide travel lanes in each direction, widened sidewalks and bicycle facilities
  • A new third lane on I-481 between the Thruway and I-690; and a greatly improved Exit 3 (Heading to DeWitt, Fayetteville, Manlius and points east)
  • 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
  • A reconfigured West Street Exit
  • Sewer system upgrades that will improve stormwater management and water quality

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