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New York Governor Announces Award of Third Construction Contract for I-81 Viaduct Project in City of Syracuse

SYRACUSE, NY — Governor Kathy Hochul announces the award of the third construction contract for the Interstate 81 Viaduct Project. The project, the largest in New York State Department of Transportation history, will replace an elevated highway in Downtown Syracuse with a Community Grid that will reconnect neighborhoods, improve mobility, and provide new opportunities for growth throughout Central New York. The award of the $218.9 million contract to Salt City Constructors, LLC begins the reconstruction of city streets in the Inner Harbor and on the north side and builds on the construction already underway at the northern and southern interchanges of Interstates 81 and 481.

“With the third contract now awarded, New York is quickly moving forward with this nation-leading project to tear down the viaduct,” Hochul said. “The work in the Inner Harbor and on the north side of Syracuse will move the city one step closer to reconnecting neighborhoods wrongly ripped apart generations ago.”

The third of eight separate construction contracts expected to be awarded as part of the I-81 Viaduct Project focuses on consolidating multiple on-ramps along I-81 southbound to one new on-ramp that connects with future Business Loop (BL) 81 southbound. Work includes new and improved southbound interchanges at North Clinton and Bear Streets, along future BL 81, creating a gateway to the city’s north side and allowing for safer access to businesses and residences. Additionally, North Clinton Street will be reconstructed from Bear Street to Genant Drive, and will include new pavement, sidewalks on each side, and curbside parking. The new tree lined North Clinton Street will provide shared use paths from Court Street south to the intersection of Genant Drive.

Contract three will also enhance safety and mobility for motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists, with the replacement of three bridges connecting the north side to the Inner Harbor. The Bear, Court, and Spencer Street bridges will be replaced with wider structures that include sidewalks and will fit over the expanded future BL 81. A shared use path will also be included on the Court and Spencer Street bridges.

Additional project features include:

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  • Installation of curb bump-outs to shorten pedestrian crossing distances
  • Nearly 800 new trees, decorative street lighting, and new traffic signals
  • Pedestrian improvements along much of Bear Street connecting the north side to the Empire State Trail
  • Improvements to the interchange of I-690 eastbound with Bear Street, providing a more efficient and safe connection

In the summer of 2023, Hochul, along with federal, state, and local leaders’ broke ground on the I-81 Viaduct Project. Major construction of contracts one and two are underway and essential to maintaining a high-speed interstate connection with national and international north-south trade routes from Tennessee to the Canadian border. Together, they focus on reconstructing the existing I-81/I-481 northern and southern interchanges into BL 81 and I-81.

The estimated $2.25 billion project aims to reverse the ill-considered decision made in the 1950s to build the viaduct through the heart of the city and, through the construction of the Community Grid, provide new opportunities for inclusion and equity. The Community Grid will relieve existing traffic congestion issues in the city and improve access to and from the interstate highway network and key destinations, including the downtown business districts, area hospitals, and Syracuse University. It will also provide ADA accessible pedestrian and bicycle amenities throughout the project area.

Strong community engagement and partnerships with the Federal Highway Administration and the City of Syracuse led to one of the first-local hire provisions in the nation approved under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. It incentivizes hiring local residents from zip codes in disadvantaged communities at a prevailing wage. The goal is for each contract to have 15 percent of its workforce represent locally hired workers. Today, contract one is at 13.57 percent of the 15 percent goal and contract two is at 19.19 percent, for a combined total of 16.38 percent. Contract three will build upon this success by creating unprecedented opportunities for residents to work on the project with little to no experience.

“The I-81 Viaduct Project will truly change the game for Central New York, reuniting communities long divided and transforming an entire region," said Marie Therese Dominguez, State Department of Transportation Commissioner. "The award of contract three is a direct reflection of our commitment to completing this project, and we will not stop until the viaduct dividing communities comes down and a transportation network that reconnects neighborhoods is restored.”

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