I-81 viaduct project part of President Biden’s jobs and infrastructure plan

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(WSYR-TV) — President Joe Biden unveiled a $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan Wednesday, in which he names the I-81 viaduct project in Syracuse.

The plan reads:

“Too often, past transportation investments divided communities – like the Claiborne Expressway in New Orleans or I-81 in Syracuse – or it left out the people most in need of affordable transportation options. The President’s plan includes $20 billion for a new program that will reconnect neighborhoods cut off by historic investments and ensure new projects increase opportunity, advance racial equity and environmental justice, and promote affordable access.”

The New York State Department of Transportation has already endorsed the community grid plan, where local road will replace the aging raised highway and through-traffic is diverted to what is now I-481.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh issued a statement that said, “President Biden’s vision bodes well for Syracuse. I’m thrilled the President is singling out Syracuse and the I-81 project as a prime opportunity for the American Jobs Plan. $20 billion for a new program to reconnect neighborhoods, increase opportunity, and advance racial equity and environmental justice can be a game changer for this community and can help us realize the full potential of this project. The American Jobs Plan also calls for investments tied to Project Labor, Community Workforce, local hire, registered apprenticeships and other labor training programs so that federal investments support good jobs and pathways out of poverty. These initiatives directly align with our partnerships on the Syracuse Build construction jobs program and Interstate 81 Jobs Big Table local hiring initiative. Our community is working hard to be ready for the opportunities ahead for Syracuse and Central New York.”

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer released the following statement, “It is wonderful for Syracuse that President Biden listened to us and included the vital I-81 reformation as a poster child for enlightened infrastructure policy, calling for new investment to help communities pay for tearing down urban highways to reconnect and transform neighborhoods previously left behind, something I’ve fought for in my Economic Justice Act. Biden’s plan is an exciting opportunity for the redevelopment of I-81, including the use of local hire and registered apprenticeship to bring together community leaders and unions to put more people to work. I look forward to working with Senator Gillibrand in driving this plan through Congress to ensure I-81’s transformation has all the resources it needs to be an example for how to transform infrastructure in the 21st century and create good jobs for all New Yorkers.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand also reacted saying, “As the nation rebuilds from the COVID pandemic and reckons with our long history of institutional racism, we must prioritize policies that build back our economy with a focus on racial equity, inclusion, investment in struggling communities, and good jobs. I applaud President Biden’s commitment to these issues and his infrastructure plan’s inclusion of critical funding to reconnect communities of color and underserved communities that have historically been excluded from infrastructure investments. The American Jobs Plan will create millions of good-paying jobs in New York and across the country to rebuild our country’s infrastructure and I will work with my colleagues in the Senate to get it passed.”

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