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By Payne Horning New commitments from high-ranking government officials are raising hopes that the long-awaited I-81 viaduct construction project will finally move into the fast lane. The 1.4-mile elevated stretch of Interstate-81 that cuts through downtown Syracuse dates back decades and in 2017 officially reached the end of its “useful life,” ramping up the pressure to replace it. Now, travelers know when that will get underway. “In Central New York, we will transform the obsolete and poorly designed I-81 viaduct in Syracuse into a modern transportation corridor,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in one of his recent State of the State addresses. “We are conducting environmental and public reviews this year and we will break ground in 2022.” The news was enthusiastically greeted by local officials like Syracuse-area State Sen. Rachel May, who said it is “immensely gratifying” to see some movement on the project. But it’s not just Cuomo’s pledge that people find encouraging. Incoming U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also made recent remarks that give some reason to believe I-81 could be a federal priority as well. On Dec. 20, the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Tweeted, “Black and brown neighborhoods have been disproportionately divided by highway projects or