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Advocates say I-81 Record of Decision is exciting, but there's still work to do

WAER File Photo

The Record of Decision for the Interstate 81 viaduct project means construction is set to begin soon. Officials hope to break ground by the fall. Local advocates have spent years during the project planning phases to ensure community members are able to work on the multi-billion dollar project. Urban Jobs Task Force’s Deka Dancil said these next steps for the project are exciting, but there is still work to do.

"There are still many steps that need to be done to ensure that people are going to benefit from those jobs and just even after shovels are in the ground, like throughout the entire construction, the project. There’s work and there’s things that need to be done to ensure that the community is seeing maximum benefit from those local jobs.

Phase One of the project is broken intofive separate contracts. The state Department of Transportation said each contract is purposely sized so local contractors can submit bids for the job. Dancil said this approach will help towards the goal of getting community members working on the project.

"Doing that through those five phases instead of just one big, huge, large contract, gives more opportunities for others to get a piece of the pie."

The exact details of local hiring goals and how they will be enforced are still forthcoming. Dancil said she expects that to be revealed after the next Big Table meeting with community stakeholders.

She feels the DOT has been a good a collaborator throughout the project so far. However, Dancil said they will also continue to hold the DOT accountable for the promises they’ve made to the community to ensure city residents can work on the project.

Katie Zilcosky is WAER’s All Things Considered host and features reporter. She also co-hosts WAER’s public affairs show Syracuse Speaks. As a reporter, she focuses on technology, economy, and identity.
Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at