Return home

State approves $296M contract for I-81 project

Massive construction effort remains stalled by lawsuit from opponents of community grid plan

Robert Harding, The (Auburn) Citizen
Posted 1/21/23

The state has approved the first construction contract for the Interstate 81 project, but work cannot begin due to a lawsuit brought by opponents of the community grid plan. 

This item is available in full to subscribers.

State approves $296M contract for I-81 project

Massive construction effort remains stalled by lawsuit from opponents of community grid plan

Posted

The state has approved the first construction contract for the Interstate 81 project, but work cannot begin due to a lawsuit brought by opponents of the community grid plan. 

David Smith, regional director of the state Department of Transportation, said Friday that the state comptroller’s office signed off on the $296.4 million contract awarded to Salt City Contractors, an entity consisting of three firms — L&T Construction (Schoharie County), D.A. Collins Construction (Saratoga County) and Cold Spring Construction (Erie County). 

Salt City Contractors’ work, according to Smith, will focus on rebuilding the I-81 and Interstate 481 interchange into Business Loop 81 and I-81. Parts of I-481 will be expanded to three lanes to the Kirkville Road interchange. It is unknown, however, when construction will begin. A state Supreme Court judge has issued an injunction that prevents the state from proceeding with plans to tear down the I-81 viaduct in Syracuse and replace it with a street-level grid. 

Renew 81, a group that opposes the community grid plan that has been approved by federal and state regulators, brought the lawsuit against the project.

The opponents believe that the viaduct should be replaced or that a “skybridge” should be constructed to allow for high-speed traffic to continue north and south through the city and oppose redirecting the high-speed traffic to I-481.

The state Department of Transportation endorsed the community grid after considering other alternatives, including rebuilding the viaduct.

Before opponents of the grid wanted a large bridge, they wanted the state to look at the possibility of a tunnel to maintain traffic flow through the city. The DOT examined a tunnel option but deemed it too expensive — it would cost nearly $5 billion to build. 

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here