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      Work on hole in I-690 bridge extended to next week

      A ground-level view of the I-690 hole / file photo

      Traffic on a busy Central New York highway will continue to be delayed after work to repair a hole in the road is taking longer than first anticipated.

      On June 28 a three feet wide hole was discovered in the left lane of Interstate 690 near the on-ram to Interstate 81 in Syracuse. Currently the lane and the ramp are closed while work crews perform repairs to the bridge. The State Department of Transportation announced Tuesday morning that work will now continue until Wednesday, July 13. It was scheduled to end today, July 5.

      Thousands of drivers take I-690 through the city each day, and traffic back-ups have been common as cars have been detoured around the work site. The hole is situated over the North Salina Street sidewalk, which is also closed so construction debris doesn't fall on people walking under the bridge.

      DOT officials say the location of the hole has been repaired before, but the interstate bridges in and around Syracuse are old and need work.

      "The bridges in the downtown interchange were built in the mid to late 1960s, so they are approaching 40 years. We usually get 50 years out of a bridge," said Gene Cilento of the State DOT last week.

      This incident, along with other recent repair projects, has renewed debate about the future of the elevated I-81 overpass through downtown Syracuse. Some organizations want to see the overpass torn down as part of an urban renewal project, while others are concerned of possible inconveniences to commuters if the highway is changed.