Media Contact

Arianna Fishman,, 212-607-3372

July 16, 2021

SYRACUSE – Today, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) released its I-81 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for public review.

In response, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued the following statement from Education Policy Center Assistant Director Lanessa Chaplin:

“I-81 has been a structural barrier to opportunity and racial equity in Syracuse since its original construction, and today, NYSDOT took an important step by recognizing the need to remove the viaduct. Every detail of reconstruction must work in concert to rebuild the community that this highway destroyed. Our community members must be protected from the onslaught of noise during construction, our schoolchildren must not be a stone’s throw from the pollution of a highway ramp, and residents must have a say in how the new public space is returned and used in their community.

“Together with community partners, the NYCLU will ensure that NYSDOT hears loud and clear that we will not let future generations experience the structural racism we experienced. We must dismantle these harms as we dismantle I-81.”

In December 2020, the NYCLU released Building a Better Future: The Structural Racism Built into I-81, and How to Tear it Down which analyzes NYSDOT’s plans from a racial, economic and environmental justice lens. The report calls on NYSDOT to take a reparative and restorative approach to rebuilding the I-81 viaduct area, and remedy the displacement and destruction of the 15th Ward, where as many as 90% of Syracuse’s Black residents lived in the 1960s.