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I-81 Viaduct Project Awarded $180M in Federal Funds


An award of $180 million under the federal Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Grant is heading to the city of Syracuse for the I-81 viaduct project.

The grant, submitted by State Department of Transportation in partnership with the City of Syracuse and made possible through the federal Inflation Reduction Act, will create new and enhanced destinations for Syracuse residents and visitors to enjoy, while incorporating complete streets elements along the state and local road network on or adjacent to the community grid.

The project, which officially broke ground last summer in Central New York, will demolish the I-81 viaduct in the City of Syracuse and replace it with Business Loop 81, a community grid network currently occupied by Almond Street. The new Business Loop 81/Almond Street will increase connections to downtown, improve traffic flow, connect residents, enhance safety and equity, and boost economic opportunity across Central New York. The project will include additional community-focused elements, including sidewalks, bike paths, new shared use paths, and new and enhanced parks and public spaces that will further reconnect and reinvigorate the neighborhoods.

New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) partnered with the City of Syracuse for the grant under the framework and joint partnership of I-81 Connecting Syracuse, which will focus on transportation improvements to the state and local street network to reconnect the neighborhoods, while addressing social conditions and quality of life in disadvantaged communities in the City of Syracuse.

Project components under the grant will bolster community connections by:

  • Designing and reconstructing portions of Business Loop 81 along Almond Street (from Van Buren Street to Erie Boulevard) as a complete street with a landscaped median, cycle tracks and shared use paths, sidewalks and other landscape improvements.
  • Supporting the planning, design and construction of a new Canal District that highlights the historical roots of Erie and Oswego Canals within the City, creating a new destination that residents and visitors will enjoy.
  • Rehabilitating Business Loop 81 on Erie Boulevard that connects to Almond Street and the Canal District, with sidewalks on both sides, on-street parking, landscaping and consolidated driveway curb cuts.
  • Creating another new destination with the design and construction of the Lodi Overlook atop the northern section of Business Loop 81, with an expansive view of Onondaga Lake and the surrounding area.
  • Creating a new, shared use bike and pedestrian path along Business Loop 81 from Hiawatha Boulevard to Court Street, leading to the overlook and improving north-south connectivity for alternative forms of transportation.
  • Improving Wilson Park, including reconstructing and adding a new basketball court and a splash pad.
  • Reconnecting public local/City streets in the New 15th Ward neighborhood, including updating, modernizing, and building a complete street network with landscaping, lighting, and public utility improvements.
  • Completing design of Linear Park in the new 15th Ward neighborhood, complete with a new greenway and enhanced recreational opportunities for local residents.

These improvements on state roads and the new 15th ward were designed to accommodate priorities articulated by local residents including safety, proximity and access to critical services and the beautification of the community. These improvements also help unlock the opportunities for Syracuse’s mixed-income housing redevelopment initiative in the New 15th Ward by providing much of the needed public infrastructure improvements, while continuing effort to separate the sewer system between Onondaga Lake and Onondaga Creek.

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