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Walsh appoints Driscoll as I-81 city project director

By Eric Reinhardt (


Syracuse Common Councilor Joe Driscoll has been appointed the city project director for the Interstate 81 viaduct-replacement project. Driscoll will step down from his role as a city lawmaker to assume the role. (Photo credit: City of Syracuse)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh has appointed Common Councilor Joe Driscoll as the city project director for the Interstate 81 viaduct-replacement project.

Driscoll will be the city’s primary liaison with the New York State Department of Transportation regarding the replacement of the Interstate 81 viaduct. He will also work closely with departments across city government to manage the impact of the massive construction project on residents and city infrastructure.

Driscoll will leave his position on the Common Council to take on the new role, Walsh’s office said.

Driscoll, three-term common councilor, has been a “strong advocate” for the community grid option to replace the current highway, Walsh’s office noted.

“Joe Driscoll knows how to get things done. He’s been a constructive voice regarding the Community Grid who helped make sure the facts about the alternatives reached more people. He is deeply knowledgeable about the 81 project and is respected across the city for his integrity. Joe is a true public servant who understands city government and our neighborhoods,” Walsh said. “By listening, building consensus and working tirelessly, he has helped Syracuse make progress on critical community issues. His leadership role in passing the historic lead ordinance demonstrates his resolve to protect the health of children and families in Syracuse. We need his approach now on the 81 project.”

Driscoll was elected 5th district Syracuse Common Councilor in 2018, representing Eastwood and a large section of the city’s east side. He’s been serving as the Council Majority Whip and currently chairs the public-works committee, which oversees city departments and services including water, roads, street lighting, sewers and sanitation.

Driscoll previously chaired the council’s transportation committee.

“This job is a calling for me. I feel like all of my experiences have led to this moment. I believe passionately in the potential of the Community Grid to positively transform Syracuse, to advance equity and make people’s lives better,” Driscoll said. “This will likely be the most transformative project to happen in Syracuse during our lifetimes, and I plan to continue on with my work as an advocate, keeping the needs and health of city residents foremost, and working to make positive changes that will improve the quality of life for all the people in our community, hopefully for generations to come. Serving as the 5th District Councilor has been one of the greatest honors of my life, and I want to express my deep gratitude to the people of Syracuse for electing me to represent them.”

In 2018, Driscoll formed the “Community for the Grid” public information and advocacy program to address misinformation about the alternatives for the Interstate 81 viaduct-replacement project. In 2021, he worked with community stakeholders to present a recommendation to the City to hire its own urban planner and landscape design project to develop a vision master plan and advise the City as the project is implemented.

He served on the request-for-proposal (RFP) committee which recommended the hiring of Dover Kohl & Partners, a “nationally renowned” urban-planning firm that has begun working with the City, per Walsh’s office.





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