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New York's New $32.8B Budget for Building Projects Includes $1.1B to Upgrade I-81

Tue April 12, 2022 - Northeast Edition
Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul & CNYCentral

This transportation plan includes a commitment of $1.1 billion by the state toward replacing I-81's elevated viaduct in downtown Syracuse with a new community grid.
This transportation plan includes a commitment of $1.1 billion by the state toward replacing I-81's elevated viaduct in downtown Syracuse with a new community grid.

With New York State's passing of the 2023 budget on April 9, Gov. Kathy Hochul has a five-year, $32.8 billion plan for transportation and infrastructure projects which includes downtown Syracuse's I-81 project.

This is the largest investment ever in the state's transportation infrastructure, one that prioritizes investments on state and local roads and bridges across New York.

"The adoption of this extraordinary capital plan sends a strong signal that New York is building back stronger than ever from the depths of the pandemic," Hochul said in a statement.

"With this blueprint, we will give communities the infrastructure they need to unleash their full potential, enhancing connectivity, supporting transportation alternatives, and correcting the injustices of the past. I applaud Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Carl Heastie [of the New York State Assembly] for their help in getting this done."

This transportation plan includes a commitment of $1.1 billion by the state toward replacing I-81's elevated viaduct in downtown Syracuse with a new community grid. The city and the state have long wanted the project to reconnect neighborhoods that were cut off and left behind due to the construction of the original interstate, as well as rejuvenate the downtown area with the construction of safe pedestrian and bicycle access for users of all ages and abilities, reported CNYCentral, a consortium of three Syracuse TV stations.

The I-81 project has been one the most contested debates in central New York. The enacted capital plan is designed to replace the current viaduct structure with a new roadway grid that would disperse traffic along local north-south streets, upgrading a section of I-481 and redesignating it as the new I-81.

In total, the project is expected to cost $1.9 billion.

The interstate serves as an essential travel corridor for the central New York region, especially the downtown Syracuse area. The Community Grid project has been highlighted by President Biden as reflective of his administration's priorities on equity, economic opportunity and transforming neighborhoods left behind.

Seven More New York Projects to Be Funded

Other highlights of New York State's new multi-billion transportation and infrastructure initiative plan include:

  • Revitalizing the South Bronx by rebuilding the Bruckner Sheridan interchange at Hunts Point in New York City. The enacted budget includes $550 million toward the final phase of the project's construction. All phases of the effort are scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2025.
  • A plan is in place to cover a part of the Cross-Bronx Expressway. In partnership with New York City, the new state capital plan includes resources to begin a study on the feasibility of decking sections of the Expressway. This assessment will be a critical step toward removing unjust physical and economic barriers to residents of the Bronx.
  • Reconfiguring the Oakdale Merge on Long Island to alleviate congestion where Sunrise Highway (NY 27), Montauk Highway (NY 27A) and other roadways converge. To do so, the state has committed $30 million to begin the environmental review process for redoing the difficult traffic merge in Suffolk County.
  • Converting the NY 17 corridor in Orange and Sullivan Counties in the state's Mid-Hudson region. Up to $1 billion of the capital plan will be used to accelerate the conversion of the busy highway corridor to Interstate 86, fueling transformative levels of economic growth in the region and improving quality of life by alleviating congestion.
  • The state has committed up to $100 million to raise the Inner Loop freeway in Rochester. This new phase builds upon the successful completion of the Inner Loop East project administered by the city in 2017, which raised and reconnected a two-thirds mile-long, below-grade expressway into an at-grade boulevard.
  • Up to $1 billion has been budgeted by the new transportation capital plan to restore the majestic Humboldt Parkway in Buffalo and reconnect the east-west neighborhoods across the depressed section of the city's Kensington Expressway corridor. Another goal of the effort is to restore the historical and cultural significance of Humboldt Parkway severed by construction in 1958.
  • Replacing Albany's Livingston Avenue Railroad Bridge would provide a critical link for passenger rail service from the Northeast Corridor to Albany-Rensselaer. A total of $400 million is earmarked to be used to replace the existing, Civil War-era bridge with a modern structure capable of supporting higher-speed passenger rail, freight rail, maritime transport and bicycle-pedestrian access.

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