NYSDOT opens centers to help provide information on I-81 project
Anyone with questions about the mammoth Interstate 81 project coming to Syracuse, can get answers at two newly opened community outreach centers. State officials said this is a milestone part of the biggest public works project ever in central New York.
The State Department of Transportation has been promising all along a way for residents to get face-to-face answers about the $2.25 billion project. They have fulfilled that promise by opening two community outreach centers, one at the Hills Building downtown, and the other at the Tucker Missionary Baptist Church on the city’s Southside. The Tucker location is especially important for the residents who are living right next to the highway, and part of a community ripped apart when I-81 was originally built, according to NYSDOT Regional Director David Smith.
"Tucker represents, you know, hope for this community. Tucker is a beacon in this community. It's a trusted resource in this community," Smith said.
The project also aims to bring jobs to one of the poorest parts of the city, and Deka Dancil of the Urban Jobs Task Force said these centers will help residents looking for work on the huge project.
"Because it gives direct access to the information needed to get hired onto the project, to get training to be on the jobs of the project, or even to receive a contract on the project," Dancil said.
The federal government is paying a majority of the project, which will reroute traffic around the city, and replace a crumbling viaduct with a boulevard. Smith said he expects questions to run the gamut.
"There will be folks that have concerns in terms of the impact to them personally, in terms of impact to the area," Smith said. "And so the ability for them to come in and talk with us, and us to have that conversation is critical for sure.”
The centers will also have information about job opportunities at the centers located at the Tucker Missionary Baptist Church on the city’s Southside, and the Hills Building downtown. Tearing down an aging interstate viaduct and rerouting high-speed traffic around the city on Interstate 481 is the biggest public works project in the history of Central New York. The timetable is in flux because of a lawsuit from an opposition group, asking for more studies on the project. Work is moving ahead on the Northern and southern I-481 interchanges of I-81.