SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Governor Kathy Hochul and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Tuesday that they have signed the formal record of decision for the Interstate 81 project.

This announcement was hinted at earlier in the day and is the final step in the federally-mandated process concerning a proposed highway project.

The signing of the record signals formal federal approval of the final environmental impact statement, which was released jointly by the State DOT and Federal Highway Administration in April.

“With full concurrence secured on the record of decision, we are ready to move forward with shovels in the ground this fall and deliver on the infrastructure and opportunities that residents of Central New York deserve,” said Governor Hochul.

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) received around 1,000 comments on the project between the release of the final environmental impact statement and the record of decision’s signing.

In response to the comments, the roundabout that was initially planned near the Dr. King Elementary School will instead be constructed at the intersection of Almond Street and Van Buren Street. The governor’s office says that this new location will also create an improved gateway to University Hill and the Community Grid corridor downtown.

The project’s first phase will start in the fall of 2022 and includes 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 into I-81.

The Interstate 81 project will also improve Syracuse sewer and storm water management systems to prevent overflows and protect the water quality of Onondaga Creek and Onondaga Lake.

In addition to these changes, the project will:

  • Reconstruct Almond Street to have two lanes in each direction, nearly 13 miles of new reconstructed sidewalks, two miles of new or improved bike path and shared vehicle and bicycle lanes
  • A new full interchange on I-690 between Crouse and Irving Avenues
  • A reconfigured I-690 West Street exit
  • A new northbound off-ramp from Business Loop 81 to Colvin Street
  • Bear Street improvements
  • A third lane on I-481 between I-90 and I-690 and improvements to Exit 3

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh thanked Governor Hochul and Sen. Schumer for their support.

Mayor Walsh added, “At long last, we will remove the structure and begin to heal the scar it created across the heart of the city at the same time that we improve transportation for our city and region.”