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DOT nixes tunnel option for I-81 in Syracuse, only two alternatives remain

DOT nixes tunnel option for I-81 in Syracuse, only two alternatives remain/ CNYCentral file photo

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The state has scratched a tunnel off of its list of options for the Interstate 81 project in Syracuse.

Department of Transportation spokesperson Gene Cilento confirmed Wednesday that the state will no longer be considering having a tunnel run underneath downtown Syracuse.

With a tunnel no longer on the table, two of the original three proposed options remain:

  1. Viaduct Alternative - This would involve replacing the elevated section of highway. The Viaduct Alternative would demolish the existing I-81 viaduct and involve a full reconstruction of I-81 between approximately Colvin Street and Spencer Street as well as modifications to highway features north of Spencer Street to Hiawatha Boulevard and along I-690. The new viaduct would be built to meet today's design standards, which include provision of ten-foot-wide right shoulders and four-foot-wide left shoulders.

  2. Community Grid Alternative - This would reroute traffic from the interstate around the city and weave it into the existing street grid to enhance traffic flow. The Community Grid Alternative would demolish the existing I-81 viaduct, which would be decommissioned as an interstate, and make improvements to I-481, which would be re-designated as I-81. Almond Street would be reconstructed as a surface street, with potential for urban design/aesthetic treatments and bicycle/pedestrian amenities.


The DOT will present the details for those proposed options during an open house at the Oncenter Thursday. That is taking place from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the lower level ballroom of the facility.

During the open house, the DOT is expected to outline details for each option for the project and breakdown the anticipated property and travel impacts that each option would bring.

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