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Major Interstate-81 work finishes up in Cortland

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Gov. Hochul yesterday announced completion of an $8 million project that replaced two bridges along Interstate 81 in the City of Cortland.

It’s part of the overreaching Northeast Gateway Project.

She said the changes “ease travel and enhance safety along one of Central New York’s most vital traffic arteries.”

Originally built in 1966 to span the long-since-abandoned Lehigh Valley Railroad, the old structures were swapped with modern crossings that now lie atop two concrete box culverts.

Construction began in May 2020. Since then. interstate traffic was maintained utilizing a temporary crossover realignment.

The new crossings feature wider shoulders more aligned with the existing highway than the original bridges; this allows for a smoother transition between the spans and the roadway.

Because there is no longer an active railway running underneath the highway, the new crossings are also shorter. That allowed concrete box culverts to be used instead of more traditional bridge structures.

Each four-side culvert is 17 feet tall and about 20 feet wide. Both were constructed onsite with 56,000 cubic yards of fill.

Completion of this project accommodates the eventual development of a shared-use path underneath the highway envisioned by the City to link downtown streets with Yaman Park.

With this in mind, it was designed to be a safe fit for recreation activities and emergency vehicles.


Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez:

“This project demonstrates New York State’s commitment to building back better by creating a 21st Century transportation network that improves travel, strengthens our communities and stimulates economic growth. These new highway crossings and culverts enhance the resiliency of one of the region’s most heavily traveled roadways as well help ensure the continued flow of people, goods and access to recreational opportunities through this important corridor for many years to come.”


Governor Kathy Hochul:

“Projects like these to modernize regional transportation networks are helping to ensure we have the infrastructure we need to continue our economic comeback and to stay competitive in the future. These bridge replacements will provide Cortland area commuters and other motorists a smoother ride, while supporting a more reliable and resilient transportation system for decades to come.”


NYS Senator Peter Oberacker:

“A sound infrastructure is crucial to public safety and economic development. These bridge replacements meet key needs ensuring that I-81 will continue to meet the demands of those who live and work in Cortland and beyond. Constructing these spans with an eye toward future recreation needs in the City of Cortland puts this project over the top.”


Assemblymember Anna Kelles:

“I am pleased to see the completion of these bridge upgrades to a vital roadway for Cortland. Ensuring the safety and improved ease-of-travel for residents and visitors is an important investment to make in the community. I look forward to continuing to work with the community to increase access between the City of Cortland and Yaman Park for pedestrians and cyclists.”


Assemblymember John Lemondes:

“I’m pleased to see the investment in our rural communities continues with $8 million for our bridges. Cortland County sees a lot of traffic from locals, and this will serve our residents better for years to come.”

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