Joe Driscoll will leave the Syracuse Common Council to be the city's Interstate 81 project director. Credit: Courtesy of City of Syracuse

Syracuse Common Councilor Joe Driscoll has been hired as the city’s Interstate 81 project director.

Driscoll will be the city’s liaison with the New York State Department of Transportation and coordinate between city departments on the teardown of the Interstate 81 viaduct and its community grid replacement.

“By listening, building consensus and working tirelessly, he has helped Syracuse make progress on critical community issues,” Mayor Ben Walsh said in a statement about Driscoll’s hiring.

Driscoll can no longer serve on the council because he was hired by the city. His last council meeting will be July 6. The council will appoint a new councilor in Driscoll’s place. Whoever holds the council seat will have to run for re-election in November of this year.

Driscoll’s position with the city is funded for two years and will pay $70,000 per year. The position was created with federal stimulus funding.

He will manage the work of Dover Kohl & Partners, the urban planning firm the city hired to analyze how the I-81 project will affect neighborhoods around the viaduct.

The firm will recommend to the city how to create a reconnected street network and support economic growth while still preserving the neighborhoods.

Driscoll will also handle community engagement around the I-81 project, too.

Driscoll said he applied for the position because of his roots growing up in Syracuse and attending Nottingham High School.

Though he remembered the city schools as a diverse place, Driscoll said, he was shocked to see the data showing how segregated the city is.

“This felt like a more singular purpose and kind of direct goal-oriented way to try to get us off some of those most-segregated neighborhood lists and really try to offset some of the damage that was done when this was originally built,” Driscoll said.

Driscoll has represented the council’s fifth district since 2018. The district covers Eastwood and a large portion of Syracuse’s East Side. He is currently the council majority whip and chairs the public works committee.

Chris Libonati

Chris Libonati covers government, accountability and equity. Have a tip? Contact Chris at 585-290-0718 or libonati@centralcurrent.org.