Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The New York State Department of Transportation is hosting neighborhood meetings regarding the Interstate-81 reconstruction project through downtown Syracuse. Many residents in Skaneateles are concerned that the project could negatively affect their area.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

As the Interstate 81 viaduct through downtown Syracuse comes to the end of its useful life, the state’s alternatives are down to two options: the viaduct reconstruction or community grid. The third option of a tunnel was dropped from consideration.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Regardless of which option is chosen as the replacement of the Interstate 81 viaduct through downtown Syracuse, there are some common features in all the plans. The New York State Department of Transportation would expand I-81 north of the viaduct and add a new interchange. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Syracuse Democratic Mayor Stephanie Miner said Republican Rep. John Katko has not asked her how he can help the city of Syracuse during his first term in office. Katko's office refuted the claim and said that the congressman has helped on a number of issues.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Drivers that use Interstate 690 east to get to Syracuse from the western suburbs will need a little more time for their commute in the coming days. The New York State Department of Transportation is doing some major deck repairs just before the I-690 interchange with Interstate 81 (see maps below), which will shut down a stretch of road that 37,000 drivers use to get into the city of Syracuse every day.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The candidates in the race for the 24th Congressional District are previewing some of what's in store for the campaign ahead. 

Shortly after basking in the success of her primary victory Tuesday night, Democratic candidate Colleen Deacon, a former staffer for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), quickly shifted to the general election.

Doug Kerr / WRVO News

The Urban Jobs Task Force is urging the New York State Department of Transportation to apply to a federal program that would require contractors to hire local residents for the I-690 project in Syracuse.

The state is planning to spend $74 million next year to repair 15 crumbling bridges along a portion of Interstate 690 between Teall Avenue and Beech Street in the city of Syracuse. Urban Jobs Task Force Chair Aggie Lane is asking state officials to seriously look at the Local Labor Hiring Pilot Program, something the federal Department of Transportation is trying out.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The state Department of Transportation is informing the public on how it would acquire property if it is needed in the reconstruction of Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse. The earliest the state would begin that process is still two years away.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

As central New York waits for a decision on the future of the Interstate 81 viaduct through Syracuse, motorists will see road work on the current road in coming months. I-81 project director Mark Frechette calls it band-aiding -- maintenance work to be done this year on a stretch of I-81 that needs to be replaced.

"When you look at the interchange, just between 81 and 690, it has over a million square feet of deck area. So you don’t know where you’ll get a hole, or a beam will deteriorate, or an accident will knock down signage or a guard rail,” said Frechette.

Zack Seward / WXXI

Work behind the scenes continues as the New York State Department of Transportation moves towards removing or replacing the crumbling Interstate 81 viaduct that cuts through the heart of Syracuse.

The community has been talking about this for years now -- what to do when the viaduct that brings I-81 through Syracuse comes to the end of its lifespan next year.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

As the Interstate-81 viaduct that runs through downtown Syracuse reaches the end of its useful life, three options are being studied to replace it. Regardless of which option is selected, hundreds of families living in public housing living near the interstate are going to be directly affected.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Passage of the transportation bill in Congress last week includes some good news for central New York as it gets ready to rebuild a major transportation artery through the city of Syracuse.

The legislation is the first long-term highway bill passed by Congress in over a decade. The $305 billion bill will provide funds for fixing roads and bridges and for the upkeep of mass transit. But for Syracuse-area Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus), one of the high points is the designation of I-81 as a “high priority corridor.”

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation and the former mayor of Syracuse, Matt Driscoll, returned to Syracuse on Wednesday to give an update on the I-81 viaduct project. Engineers are currently analyzing each proposal for the interstate's future.

Driscoll says he is seriously considering three plans: a new viaduct replacement, a community grid with the boulevard option or a tunnel. While each plan has its pros and cons, Driscoll said money should not be a deterrent for any of the options. 

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is calling on Congress to replenish the highway trust fund, to fix and upgrade the city’s interstates, saying the fund’s stability has implications for the future of Interstate-81.

Whatever the decision on I-81 in Syracuse is, money to rebuild or remove it will come from multiple sources, one those being the federal government. 

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

More information about Interstate 81’s future in downtown Syracuse should be available in the next few days, as state transportation officials will release a new study on the options for the elevated roadway.

Zack Seward / WXXI

The possibility of Interstate 81 someday being buried under Syracuse is still alive, but it’s hard to tell just how seriously state transportation planners are considering it. Businesses and suburban-centric officials have been pushing for a so-called hybrid replacement for Interstate 81. 

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Onondaga County Legislature has put its support behind a so-called hybrid option to replace Interstate 81 through Syracuse, the same day the Downtown Committee put its weight behind the boulevard plan.

It’s another example of the suburban versus urban divide that has developed over this lengthy debate about the future of Interstate 81.

The Downtown Committee compared the two options the state transportation department is formally studying right now: a rebuilt viaduct, or the highway’s diversion around the city and replacing it with a boulevard.

oliver_hine / via Flickr

A sharply divided city argues over whether to keep a major transit link running through downtown, or to route it around the outskirts of town.

It’s nearly the same debate going on today, but this was in the 1920s. Then, Syracuse was arguing over whether to build an elevated rail corridor through downtown, as Dennis Connors, curator of the Onondaga Historical Association explains.

"And there was a whole campaign, the pro-leave it downtown and elevate it, versus the move it out of downtown and put it around the north side of the city," he said.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County lawmakers will again be able to weigh in on the decision about the future of Interstate 81. Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon will ask lawmakers to stand behind the option he believes is the best compromise among the plans being discussed.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Syracuse-area Rep. John Katko is jumping into the discussion on the future of Interstate 81.  The Republican is calling on the New York state and federal governments to include all options for the future of I-81 when a scoping report is released to the public in the coming weeks.  


A group of architects and urban developers favoring the removal of the interstate through downtown Syracuse are out with a drawing of what the city could look like if the roadway was gone.

The group, ReThink 81, is making the argument that tearing down the elevated highway would make room for economic growth, where currently the roadway creates a gap in economic vitality between downtown and University Hill. The highway bisects those two neighborhoods.

Syracuse city council calls for I-81 to be torn down

Jan 22, 2015
Zack Seward / WXXI

The Syracuse Common Council is taking a formal stand on what should be done with the aging infrastructure of Interstate 81. The lawmakers will tell the state they want the viaduct gone.

The future of the mile and a half of elevated highway cutting through downtown has become a urban versus suburban divide. Man city residents and elected leaders say the highway is just that: a divide through the middle of the city, which blocks economic growth and isolates communities.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks about father Mario Cuomo's love of Fort Drum

Dec 9, 2014
Karen Dewitt / WRVO

After Gov. Andrew Cuomo participated in Monday's homecoming ceremony at Fort Drum, he was asked by a reporter about his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo and the work he did with Fort Drum while he was in office.

Former Gov. Mario Cuomo has reportedly been hospitalized for several weeks because of a heart condition, and his son has not spoken much in public about his father's health.

The current governor said he and one of his daughters visited his father Sunday night and told him the 82 year-old he would be visiting Fort Drum the next day.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

Two recent surveys have solidified a suburban-city divide over the future of Interstate 81 in Syracuse, with people living outside the city want to see the elevated roadway stay. 

A Siena College/Syracuse Media Group poll released over the weekend found that people living outside of Syracuse’s borders want to see the highway’s path through downtown preserved, compared to an urban boulevard replacing the aged roadway.

Another round of public comments on I-81 concluding

Aug 29, 2014
Zack Seward / WXXI

Another study, another round of public comments. It may seem like the decision-making process on the future of the elevated Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse will never end.

An end is in sight, even if it’s still far off. Transportation officials say they hope to make a decision on whether to rebuild the viaduct, divert it around the city or tunnel it underground, in 18 months to two years.

Rethink 81

Rebuilding Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse will mean impact to properties along it. Now a group opposed to that has outlined what impact a new, wider elevated highway could have on the cityscape.

The state transportation department says as many as 40 buildings in Syracuse could have to come down to make way for a wider highway cutting through downtown, since a new viaduct would have to be up to 30 feet wider to meet regulations for modern roadways.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

The Syracuse University campus would be greatly impacted by the reconstruction of Interstate 81 through the city, a university working group has determined.

When visitors to the Syracuse University campus exit the Interstate 81 viaduct, they’re currently faced with an “unattractive city fabric,” the study concludes.

"The experience of the University is not such a good one because it’s not so clear how to get to the university," said dean of architecture Michael Speaks, who led the group, adding drivers must navigate a "cluttered path."

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

Tighter curves built into a new Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse could mean fewer buildings along the highway’s path would need to be torn down.

Rebuilding the mile and a half of elevated interstate through the city is one of two options transportation planners are recommending for how to replace the current, aging viaduct.

But a new viaduct would have to be significantly wider than the current one in order to be up to highway standards. It could also be up to ten feet higher.

Zack Seward / WXXI

Syracuse looks less likely to go through its own Big Dig, as state highway transportation officials recommend a tunnel or depressed highway are not the best options for a rebuilt Interstate 81 through Syracuse.

Transportation officials have been considering several variations of four core options for a new I-81: a rebuilt viaduct, a street-level boulevard, a tunnel, or sunken roadway.

The 16 different paths for a new Interstate 81

May 2, 2014
Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

A new Interstate 81 could rise 25 feet higher than it currently does, or be buried 81 feet below the ground's surface. Those are just two of the 16 options the state Department of Transportation has revealed to the public as an update to their lengthy process of choosing how to replace the current roadway.

There are two constants in the 16 options: The north-south I-81 will be properly connected with the east-west I-690 in all directions. And properties will have to be knocked down, though DOT provided few details about that.