The future of Interstate 81 in Syracuse is now getting a little clearer.
The Department of Transportation has released its draft environmental impact statement for the project, including some changes to the preferred "community grid" option.
The option would tear down the existing viaduct between Martin Luther King Jr. East and the I-690 interchange. Almond Street would be improved into a wider boulevard through the city. The remaining highway into Syracuse would be renamed Business Loop 81, with I-481 becoming the new I-81.
In downtown, a new exit was added to Business Loop 81 to Colvin Street. The end of Business Loop 81 at Martin Luther King Jr. East is being changed to a roundabout instead of a traffic signal. Ramps and exits to and from Business Loop 81 and I-690 would be added, including at Crouse Ave and Oswego Boulevard.
Outside of Syracuse, the project will also look to improve one area that's already a traffic headache: the DeWitt exit for Route 5 and 92.
The existing ramps from 481 southbound would be completely changed; instead of ramps going in each direction, it would become a singular exit with four lanes and a traffic signal that lets you turn in both directions. The exits from 481 northbound appear to stay the same.
Now that the statement has been released, the project will enter a public comment period.
Two hearings will be held on August 17 and 18. The 17th will be two virtual hearings, and the 18th will be two in-person hearings. Those in-person hearings will be at the Oncenter.