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Court rules in favor of Syracuse plan to replace I-81 viaduct with urban boulevard

A New York Court of Appeals ruling supports plans to tear down the Interstate 81 viaduct in the City of Syracuse and replace it with an urban boulevard has been overturned. The appeals court decision clears the way for the Interstate 81 viaduct through Syracuse to be torn down.

In a unanimous decision, a five-judge panel overturned a lower court decision saying a new environmental impact statement was needed for the project, due to the planned construction of a semiconductor manufacturing plant in Syracuse.

The interstate viaduct was built in the 1960’s, dividing the City of Syracuse in half for decades and negatively impacting a Black neighborhood.

Renew 81 for All, a group made up of leaders of some surrounding suburbs and other stakeholders, continued to try to stop the project. However, the Supreme Court’s Appellate Division for the Fourth Department ruled the lawsuit was “without merit.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul said the court decision means the viaduct is coming down.

“After a court ruling from the Appellate Division, we can now definitively say that the I-81 Viaduct – which has literally divided the City of Syracuse for decades – is coming down,” Hochul said in a statement. “This favorable resolution of the State Department of Transportation’s appeal allows the entire project to move ahead as scheduled, including the eventual demolition of the Viaduct.

“There’s more work to do to reunite and reconnect communities in Syracuse and today’s decision is a landmark step in the right direction.”

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh says Renew 81 “cost taxpayers money and caused needless delay”.

“The Fourth Department determined what was plainly clear from the beginning of the Renew 81 For All petition: NYSDOT completed the required ‘hard look’ in its environmental review of the Interstate 81 project,” he said in a statement. “Not unlike the wasted year re-studying a tunnel option, this lawsuit cost taxpayers a lot of money and caused needless delays.

”For better health, stronger neighborhoods, and improved transportation, it’s time to move full speed ahead with all aspects of the Community Grid plan.”

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