Transformative Project Will Ease Traffic Congestion and Provide a More Direct Route to the Airport—Funded by Governor's $100 Billion Infrastructure Renewal Plan
View Renderings of the New Airport and Highway Connector Here
View Video Showcasing Albany International Airport Transformation Project Here
View Video of the New Highway Connector Project Here
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the contract for the transformative $50 million Albany Airport Connector at Exit 4 of the Adirondack Northway (Interstate 87) in the Town of Colonie, Albany County, has been awarded. Field and surveying work is currently underway and major construction is expected to begin this winter. The project will be completed by the spring of 2020.
"The Capital Region is an international gateway for tourism and commerce, and this project will not only transform the airport but make traveling and commuting easier for visitors and residents alike," Governor Cuomo said. "Coupled with our historic investment in Albany International Airport and airports all across upstate New York, this connector will help improve the quality of life for people across the Capital Region while enhancing economic development opportunities."
"We are building upon our significant investments in the Capital Region and helping to transform the travel experience at Albany International Airport," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Infrastructure improvements provide a major boost to our economy, creating good-paying jobs and improving safety. The new connector project will help to reduce commute times and ensure visitors to the Capital Region have convenient access to all our state has to offer."
The Airport Connector project, overseen by the State Department of Transportation, will ease traffic congestion and provide a more direct route to the airport for both commuters and visitors to the region. The project also complements a $42.1 million project, which includes $22.1 million in state funding, already underway to modernize Albany International Airport. The project, which was first announced by Governor Cuomo in August 2018 with expected completion in spring 2020, was awarded as part of the Governor's $200 million Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization Competition.
With initial survey work for the project now underway, the contractor — Lancaster Development and Tully Construction Co. — will procure equipment and materials and establish a field office. Clearing and grubbing, earthwork and drainage work for the new ramps, foundation work for the new flyover bridge, and preparation for utility relocations is expected to begin this winter.
Construction will be arranged to adhere to Governor Cuomo's Drivers First initiative to minimize impacts to Northway traffic. There will be few anticipated traffic impacts during the initial months of the project, with most of the work occurring off-road beyond the Northway and Albany-Shaker Road. Work occurring later in the project timeline that may affect travel lanes will be scheduled to occur when traffic volumes are lower.
The project will reconfigure the Exit 4 interchange by creating a flyover for northbound Northway traffic. The new ramp will travel over the Northway, loop behind and to the west of the Desmond Hotel and come to a new T-intersection with Albany-Shaker Road, close to the airport. For southbound traffic on the Northway, a new off-ramp will be built to travel behind the Desmond Hotel and connect to a flyover ramp that will lead to the new intersection.
Project plans also call for a new, direct on-ramp from Route 155 (Watervliet-Shaker Road) at Exit 5 to the southbound Northway, eliminating the need for the existing frontage ramp off the southbound side of the highway.
On the northbound side, the on-ramp adjacent to the Times Union building will be extended all the way to Exit 5 for Route 155, creating a longer auxiliary lane that will make it easier for drivers to merge onto the northbound Northway and to depart the highway at Exit 5. A noise wall is planned to be built on the northbound side between Exits 4 and 5. The project will also convert the existing northbound Exit 4 off-ramp to allow for right-turn only maneuvers onto Wolf Road.
For travelers heading to the airport from the northbound Northway, the project will eliminate the need to travel through two additional traffic lights. For southbound Northway travelers, the project will eliminate the need to travel through one additional traffic light. Crash rates and travel times are expected to decrease as a result.
The project will also enhance connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists by providing sidewalks on the south side of Albany Shaker Road between the connector road and Wolf Road, as well as a shared use path between the Albany International Airport and the connector road.
Construction of the airport connector road will also free up large tracts of commercially zoned parcels for redevelopment and improvement by the private sector.
An estimated 40,000 motor vehicles per day use Exit 4 at the Northway and an estimated 102,000 motor vehicles travel over Albany-Shaker Road at that location daily.
In October 2015, the Department of Transportation completed a $22.3 million project to replace the bridges carrying the Northway over Albany-Shaker Road. This was the first of two phases of work planned at Exit 4. The 2015 project replaced two bridges that were built as part of the original Northway construction in 1959.
By using the best-value procurement process — which considers bidding contractors' proposed cost, technical expertise, past performance and proposed work schedule — NYSDOT is accelerating the project, which is scheduled to be completed by the spring of 2020. Funding for the anticipated $50 million project was included as part of Governor Cuomo's $100 billion Infrastructure Renewal Plan.
New York State Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas said, "Governor Cuomo has made investing in transportation infrastructure a hallmark of his administration. This transformative project connecting the Northway to Albany International Airport will lead to improved travel efficiency, greater safety and lower emissions for all users of the airport and Exit 4.
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "Albany International Airport welcomes thousands of visitors and business travelers to the Capital Region every day, and the Airport Connector is a vital infrastructure project that will make travel easier and encourage new investments in the area."
Congressman Paul Tonko said, "Speeding up travel around the Albany airport not only supports vital commerce and community development, it will also help thousands of people avoid getting stuck in traffic every year, saving gas and precious time for our constituents. As the ranking Democrat on the House Energy & Commerce Environment Subcommittee, I look for exactly this kind of efficiency improvement when considering long-term investments in sustainable infrastructure. I am grateful for Governor Cuomo's stewardship of this important project and hope that these upgrades simplify the experience of travelers and the surrounding community while extending the longevity and usefulness of this critical infrastructure resource overall."
Senator Neil Breslin said, "With this funding, Governor Cuomo is once again demonstrating his commitment to improving the Capital Region. The Albany International Airport is a major economic driver in this region, and adding the Albany Airport Connector will make sure our airport is more accessible to both residents and travelers. I look forward to seeing the positive impact this project will have on the economy of our region and the entire state."
Assemblyman Phil Steck said, "The Albany International Airport is a cornerstone of our region's economy. This project will create a more direct route to this essential airport, making travel faster and more efficient for residents and visitors. It will also alleviate congestion in the Town of Colonie at the corner of Wolf Road and Albany-Shaker Road. I applaud Governor Cuomo for recognizing the importance of this project and securing the funding to make it happen."
Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said, "By creating a more direct route to Albany International Airport, we are not only making travel easier for those going to and from the airport, we are easing traffic congestion on one of our region's busiest routes. Infrastructure investments are important catalysts for economic development and are crucial for regional growth and development. I am proud to partner with Governor Cuomo on this project that will enhance the overall travel experience for residents and tourists in the Capital Region."
Colonie Town Supervisor Paula Mahan said, "This is big news for the Capital Region and the entire state. The addition of the Albany Airport Connector in Colonie will benefit all who travel through the town by easing traffic and creating a direct route to the Airport. I thank Governor Cuomo for his continued efforts to transform Albany International Airport and look forward to seeing the completion of this critical project."
Capital Region Chamber President and CEO Mark Eagan said, "Travel to and from the airport should be fast and efficient. The addition of the new Albany Airport Connector will make sure that residents and visitors have quick, direct access to the Albany International Airport, while easing traffic congestion on one of our region's major highways. I commend Governor Cuomo for getting this transformational project underway."
Chairman of the Albany County Airport Authority Rev. Kenneth Doyle said, "Governor Cuomo's announcement of a new I-87 connector to the Albany International Airport will provide travelers with direct access to our terminal while reducing traffic congestion for travelers and area residents and comes at a time when the Airport is programing major terminal improvements to meet the needs of today's travelers and our growing family of airlines."