The $1.9 billion plan to turn Interstate 81 through the city of Syracuse into a boulevard-style community grid has been a hotly debated topic for years. On Monday, the state Department of Transportation released its long-awaited draft environmental impact statement — its strongest signal to date that the state backs a community grid.
The issue has divided city leaders — such as Mayor Ben Walsh and Syracuse University — and suburban town supervisors, who supported alternatives to the grid.
Here are six key things to know from the state's plan:
- "Business Loop 81" would have a speed limit of 30 mph through the city. And plans call for calming measures to get drivers to slow down on their approach with narrower shoulders, curbs, and landscaping.
- The $1.9 billion project is anticipated to be footed largely by the federal government — who would pay for 80 percent of the cost, with New York state responsible for the remainder.
- The "re-routed I-81" (a.k.a. the current I-481) would go up to seven lanes near the Hancock International Airport, and up to six lanes around the Kirkville Road exit.
- Bridges that currently cross over I-81 like Bear, Court, Butternut, and Spencer would be made narrower with sidewalks. These areas would also see the addition of bike lanes.
- I-690 to Hiawatha Boulevard — as you approach Destiny USA - would be widened from three to four lanes in each direction.
- Heading to the Dome from 690? It might get easier with a new interchange with Business Loop 81 at Irving and Crouse avenues.