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White House sends senior advisor to tour neighborhoods along I-81

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The White House and President Joe Biden are closely watching not one, but two major projects developing in Central New York.

President Biden himself visited Syracuse earlier this month to announce federal funding for Micron’s campus in the Town of Clay.

Tuesday, the White House sent senior advisor Tom Perez to tour the neighborhoods in the shadow of the I-81 viaduct.

The elevated section of highway will be demolished in the years to come as the State Department of Transportation bolsters the grid of city streets while rerouting through traffic around the city when I-481 is redesignated I-81.

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Perez said: “It’s envisioning green space. It’s envisioning trees in abundance, children who can cross the street.”

Perez’s visit celebrates $180 million of federal funding, called the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Grant,” recently awarded to the State D.O.T. and City of Syracuse on top of the I-81 construction budget.

State Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “It’s an investment in the roads, the sidewalks, the landscaping. It’s all the things that make a neighborhood a neighborhood.”

Perez has a long resume that includes presidential advisor, Secretary of Labor and former chair of the Democratic National Committee.

He says his visit, and the projects, aren’t partisan.

“We have to move away from whether you have a red shirt or blue shirt,” said Perez. “We have a red, white and blue shirt on.”

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