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The final decision on the I-81 viaduct project is here

Interstate 81
Maxwell Mimaroglu
/
The intersection of Interstate 81 and East Genesee Street, Syracuse, NY. April 11, 2022.

After years of discussions and public outcry to replace the I-81 viaduct through Syracuse with a Community Grid, the project’s future is now very clear. The Final Environmental Impact Statement has been released.

State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said the final report solidifies what the public wants.

So tearing down 81 and the viaduct and replacing it with the Community Grid, that's where we can truly begin to heal not only the wounds that the original infrastructure caused, but really reconnecting those downtown neighborhoods that were carved apart during that time of construction, and quite frankly, left behind in the aftermath.

DOT Regional Director Mark Frechette and NYSDOT Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez announcing the I81 project Final Environmental Impact Statement at Syracuse's Inner Harbor.
DOT Regional Director Mark Frechette and NYSDOT Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez announcing the I81 project Final Environmental Impact Statement at Syracuse's Inner Harbor.

The I-81 viaduct through the City of Syracuse will be in place a few more years before a Community Grid can be constructed. Regional State DOT Director Mark Frechette explained getting rid of the I-81 viaduct is really going to happen.

Federal review is approved today. This document is signed by the New York State Department of Transportation. It's also signed by the Federal Highway Administration. And actually, it is the Federal Highway Administration who's putting out this document tomorrow morning.

He added the FEIS report is full of over 8,000 public comments that were taken into consideration. The public will still have 30 days to respond. One area of concern was a roundabout originally placed near Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior School on the South Side.

"We have moved the roundabout to Van Buren (Street) and we have created a large land buffer between Dr. King Elementary King School and the transportation system to further protect the children that attend Dr. King Elementary School."

$1.1 billion of funding was included in the recently passed state budget on top of the previous $800 million. It's coupled with the federal portion, and the price tag is $2.2 billion of the project. Lane widening to I-481 will begin sometime this fall. Click here to view the FEIS for the I-81 viaduct to Community Grid replacement.

You can now read the full Final Environmental Impact Statement.

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.