After a Mixed Decision in Court, NY Sticks to Plan to Remove I-81 Through Syracuse

Posted on February 20, 2023


The state Department of Transportation said it is still committed to tearing down the elevated Interstate 81 in Syracuse, despite uncertainty cast by a state court ruling this week.

Nothing about state Supreme Court Judge Gerard Neri’s decision voids the $2.25 billion plan to build a street-level community grid in place of a high-speed overhead highway. Gov. Kathy Hochul says it still fits her vision to reunite, rather than divide, communities, state officials told Friday.


The judge allowed the state to start construction to improve Interstate 481 in the suburbs to handle traffic that will no longer take an elevated highway cutting through the city.

The judge did rule, however, that the state must conduct three supplemental studies before tearing down the elevated highway in the city. They involve air quality in the suburbs, water runoff and Micron traffic patterns.

Robert Simpson, president and chief executive officer of the business group CenterState CEO, called Neri’s decision “nonsensical” and “contradictory” and said he expected the state would win an appeal.

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