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Syracuse's Dig Once approach on roads tackles Butternut/Grant and West Genesee St.

A  grassy street corner across from a construction site. Across the street, behind construction, is a yellow house with cones in front of it.
Scott Willis
The City of Syracuse is putting the final touch on the Butternut and Grant Blvd. Dig Once project. They're awaiting a traffic signal for the intersection, which used to be a roundabout.

Cooler temperatures mean road construction season is coming to a close across Central New York in the next few weeks. WAER News checked in with the City of Syracuse to see where things stand after a busy season of repairing roads and other infrastructure.

That includes what's underneath the road surface, such as aging water and sewer lines. It's part of the city's Dig Once approach for a limited number of projects, like the one on Butternut Street and Grant Boulevard. Chief operating officer Corey Driscoll Dunham says there's a lot of coordination that goes into these projects.

“Engineering talks to sewers, talks to water," Dunham said. "We look at the age of infrastructure underground, we look at the number of breaks over the years, look at the road condition to say, ‘You know what, this is a really good candidate for it.'"

Crews are finishing the Butternut/Grant project, which included replacing about 100 lead water service lines for homes and businesses. Dunham said it's been years in the making. The first community meetings pre-dated the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, city crews are in the early stages of a dig once project on a long stretch of West Genesee Street.

Two construction workers talk next to a piece of heavy machinery. There is a large whole one of the workers is in, with cones surrounding it.
Cassandra Roshu
Crews work on water and sewer lines on West Genesee St. in Syracuse.

Dunham said sewer work is wrapping up, and water should be finished by the end of the year. Paving and sidewalks will be completed next year. She said the extra work extends the timeline, but it's worth it.

“We’re not able to do this, obviously, with all of our projects, but when we’re making these major investments, we really want to make sure we’re doing as much as we can so that we don’t have to cut back into this road again,” Dunham said.

Dunham knows there's nothing more frustrating than digging up a newly paved road to repair a broken water main. Funding for the Butternut Dig Once project comes from state funding secured by Assemblymember Bill Magnarelli. The West Genesee project is federally funded.

A piece of heavy machinery works at the corner of as treet. A mound of dirt sits next to it. There are cones surrounding the construction area.
Cassandra Roshu
The road and sidewalks will be replaced next year, when underground utilities are complete.

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