In July 2023, the official groundbreaking for the transformational Interstate 81 Viaduct Project in Syracuse, took place. The groundbreaking formally launched one of the largest and most ambitious construction projects ever undertaken by New York State, in partnership with the federal government. Overseen by the State Department of Transportation, the $2.25 billion project will create a Community Grid to reconnect downtown neighborhoods severed by the I-81 viaduct’s construction in the 1950’s, enhance mobility and improve access to and from the interstate highway network and key destinations, including the downtown business districts, area hospitals and Syracuse University. It will also provide safe and ADA accessible pedestrian and bicycle amenities throughout the project area. The historic project, which is the result of more than a decade of planning and community engagement, will also upgrade a portion of Interstate 481, which would be redesignated at I-81, and create a new Business Loop 81. Business Loop 81 will pass through the city distributing traffic along the way, and make other improvements that will improve mobility, enhance safety, create new recreational opportunities, and promote economic growth throughout all of Central New York.
Watts’ involvement with the project spans back ten years already and includes air quality studies, asbestos consulting services, hazardous waste/contaminated materials survey, noise analysis, existing street lighting analysis design, and demolition design (bridge and building).