Gov. Cuomo Hires International Engineering Firm to Help Fix I-81

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Back in 2015, the global construction equipment market was estimated to be around $145.5 billion dollars. That number has grown in the past year, and will only get bigger as the United States makes major upgrades to its infrastructure, including here in New York. Case in point: Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently unveiled plans for the future of the I-81.

After four years of deliberating on what to do with Syracuse’s crucial highway, the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) has hired WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff, a Montreal-based engineering firm that was one of the chief designers of New York City’s original subway system.

The area in question is a 1.4 mile stretch of the I-81 where it passes through downtown Syracuse, and so far there have been three options discussed concerning what to do with this problematic stretch of road.

The options include building a wider version of the road, demolishing it and replacing it with a boulevard layout which would send traffic around the city instead of through it, or building a tunnel. Because government officials can not come to an agreement about what to do, Cuomo decided to hire WSP/Parsons in order to get an outsider’s perspective.

In total, the DOT predicts the project with WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff will cost the state about $2 million.

Officials involved with the project say that concerns were raised when President Donald J. Trump made the public announcement after the election that he would boost spending on infrastructure development.

DOT Spokeswoman Tiffany Portzer explained in her email to Syracuse.com that “the situation around the project shifted following the election in November when the president-elect said more federal money might be available for infrastructure development. At the same time, there were still questions in the community about how best to move forward, so the independent engineer is going to evaluate the options in light of these developments to come up with the best solution for Syracuse.”

WSP/Parsons has experience developing tunnels of all shapes and sizes, and their engineers have worked on many massive projects across the world including subway stations and underground repositories for nuclear waste.

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