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Advocates hope locals can be hired for I-690 repair project

Doug Kerr

The Urban Jobs Task Force is urging the New York State Department of Transportation to apply to a federal program that would require contractors to hire local residents for the I-690 project in Syracuse.

The state is planning to spend $74 million next year to repair 15 crumbling bridges along a portion of Interstate 690 between Teall Avenue and Beech Street in the city of Syracuse. Urban Jobs Task Force Chair Aggie Lane is asking state officials to seriously look at the Local Labor Hiring Pilot Program, something the federal Department of Transportation is trying out.

"They only have nine projects nationally, and they’ve just extended the project deadline for a year -- which means I-690 is eligible. And we are hoping if we get I-690 in the project, then possibly we could grandfather I-81 in the project,” said Lane.

Lane says this falls in line with recent initiatives in the city of Syracuse, which require that large city funded projects use local workers. Lane says regulations like these go beyond just creating jobs in a city with certain neighborhoods defined by poverty.

"It’s also a way to what we call, start creating what we call, a culture of inclusion. How do we include people who are ordinarily left out or who are not connected?”

Work is expected to begin next year on I-690, after a request for proposals goes out later in the summer. The project at this point potentially involves acquisition of some properties, and a redesign of the Teall Avenue interchange. It will impact thousands of commuters who drive from the eastern suburbs into Syracuse every day.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.