SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — A Central New York highway artery has closed for the second time in a week — and it won’t be back open for a while.
The ramp connecting I-481 southbound to I-81 southbound closed Monday morning, as the morning rush hour was set to begin. NCC News witnessed partial backups around 10 a.m. Monday morning, as well as around 4 p.m. in the afternoon.
It was a beautiful day to deconstruct a burm! Contract 2 crews were busy moving earth that acts as a wedge between I-481 south and northbound. A friendly reminder that on Monday the ramp from 1-481 southbound to 1-81 southbound will close. Motorist should follow the signed detour pic.twitter.com/Q67E3V9MtJ
— NYSDOT I-81 Viaduct Project (@NYSDOTI81) September 22, 2023
Crews spent part of friday deconstructing a burm in preparation for the beginning of Monday’s shutdown. Construction crews remained outside, with many lanes of traffic limited around the shutdown scene.
🚧Traffic Alert: Today at 9am the I-481 southbound ramp to I-81 southbound will close. Follow signed detour to I-81 northbound exit 17, left on East Calthrop Ave, left on I-81 southbound ramp. The I-81 southbound ramp to 1-481 northbound is also closed. Follow signed detour. pic.twitter.com/uKhhoFHPla
— NYSDOT I-81 Viaduct Project (@NYSDOTI81) September 25, 2023
On nearby East Brighton Avenue, of which a portion of it flies over the construction site, neighbors are getting ready for a barrage of activity — with increased traffic because of the detours. Some at the Brighton Towers apartment complex are concerned, saying the road doesn’t have the capacity to handle the increased traffic.
“More traffic, more traffic, more traffic is going to come up East Brighton,” Linda Harper, a resident of the Brighton Towers, said. “And I don’t think it’s equipped for it. All the traffic lights, you want to stop signs, you know, it’s very bad. We only got a one side sidewalk because we can’t use the right because of the way the roads are made.”
For some who commute into the city of Syracuse on a regular basis, they may have to think about leaving earlier for appointments and the start of their workdays.
“I go to the [Veterans Affairs Hospital] a lot,” Jeffrey Gibbs, a Syracuse resident, said. “I don’t mind how long it takes coming home from the VA, but I am very careful about how much time I need to go down to the VA because the traffic is brutal at times, particularly on 8 to 5.”
Many people pass through the city of Syracuse and its suburbs on the way to other places, such as the Onondaga Nation, Cortland, or Watertown. Uber drivers we spoke to said that their navigation systems were taking them around the detoured roads. However, some neighbors are concerned about non-local traffic, with out-of-towners struggling to find the correct detours to use.
“I think it would probably make traffic a lot better — you know, as far as the city,” Lonnie Files, a Syracuse resident, said about the I-81 project. “But it’s going to reroute a lot of people into places they’re not familiar with.”
The closure is set to continue until the Spring of 2025. Many are frustrated that it will disrupt traffic patterns for that long, but some believe it is time for change in the city of Syracuse, and that no matter how long it takes, it will be a net benefit.
“I get why that may be an inconvenience, but what can you do?” Tiffany Hamm, a Syracuse University Doctoral Candidate, said. “Hey — construction is construction. You either want the property, you want the infrastructure, or you don’t. And if you do want to, everything is a process.”