Virtual Hearing on May 31 to be Followed by In-Person Event at The Palace Theater on June 1
Major Milestone in Project to Replace Civil War-Era Rail Crossing with Modern Span that Includes Bicycle and Pedestrian Access
See Renderings Here
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a major step forward in the project to replace the Livingston Avenue Railroad Bridge in Albany and Rensselaer. The State Department of Transportation will host public hearings on May 31 and June 1, giving Capital Region residents an important opportunity to learn about this transformative project and provide input. The new $32.8 billion DOT capital plan includes up to $400 million to replace the existing, Civil War-era bridge with a new, modern structure capable of supporting higher-speed passenger rail, freight rail, maritime transport, and bicycle-pedestrian access. The bridge provides a critical link for passenger rail service from the Northeast Corridor to Albany-Rensselaer.
"Anyone who rides the rails in upstate New York knows all too well the travel delays caused by the antiquated Livingston Avenue Bridge," Governor Hochul said. "Replacing this relic of the 19th Century will not only improve passenger and freight rail service throughout New York, but it will also provide bikers, hikers and pedestrians with a new, safer way to cross the Hudson River. Today marks a major step forward in this transformative project, and I encourage all interested Capital Region residents to attend one of the public hearings."
The public hearings are a key component of the DOT's public engagement effort and are required as part of the state and federal review process. A virtual hearing will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31, and can be accessed via Zoom here. An in-person hearing will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 1, at The Palace Theater on Clinton Avenue in Albany. Both sessions will feature informational presentations about the project by DOT personnel. A recently completed environmental assessment for the project is available for review here.
The Livingston Avenue Passenger Rail Bridge was built over the Hudson River in 1865. It connects Rensselaer and Albany by rail and provides a critical path for passenger rail service from New York City to Western NY. Deterioration of the current structure, owned by CSX and leased to Amtrak, limits trains crossing to one at a time at speeds of 15 MPH. The new bridge will accommodate improved passenger service.
The current movable swing bridge would be replaced with a new lift-type bridge which would bring the structure up to modern standards for height, width and speeds for passenger and freight trains and more reliably accommodate marine traffic using the Hudson River. The new bridge will be located south of the existing bridge on a parallel alignment and would carry two railroad tracks. The approach track work will include improvements to the triangular junction of rail tracks on the Rensselaer side to facilitate train turning movements and the rehabilitation and reconfiguration of the rail bridges over Water and Centre Streets on the Albany side. The new bridge will also include a separated shared use path connecting to the Albany Skyway and Empire State Trail to the City of Rensselaer.
Construction is slated to begin by the end of 2023. Completion of the new bridge, which is expected by the end of 2026, will build on the success of previous projects in an around the City of Albany, including the Albany Skyway, which transformed an underutilized exit ramp from northbound Interstate 787 into an elevated park that connected the city's downtown to the Hudson River; and the landmark Empire State Trail, which spans 750 miles and runs from New York City through the Hudson and Champlain Valleys to Canada, and from Albany to Buffalo along the Erie Canal.
New York Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, "Replacement of the Livingston Avenue Railroad Bridge is another demonstration of Governor Hochul's historic commitment to rebuilding New York State's critical infrastructure and doing so in a way that improves mobility, strengthens our economy and brings people and communities together. These public hearings are an important opportunity to hear from the community as we develop this project and ensuring a final result that makes all New Yorkers proud."
Senator Charles E. Schumer said, "I join all of the Capital Region celebrating the beginning of this long awaited project. I worked, last year, to secure $16B for Amtrak to make infrastructure improvements, and have urged them to make the Livingston Avenue Bridge the top priority on the Empire Line. The bridge is a lynchpin for rail and river traffic and, of course, holds the promise of transforming our riverfront trail network in the Capital Region. The new bridge must include pedestrian access."
Representative Paul Tonko said, "Years of inaction and underinvestment in our infrastructure have negatively impacted countless communities, driven up costs for Americans and stunted our economic growth," Congressman Tonko said. "That's why I fought and was proud to advance legislation including our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which makes the long-needed investments that will help us thrive. Today's announcement is a powerful step toward building our 21st century infrastructure, and I applaud all involved in this worthy effort."
State Senator Neil Breslin said, "The public hearings for the Livingston Avenue Bridge will provide an important opportunity for community members to provide input regarding the future of the bridge and a vision for what the replacement will include. I look forward to continuing to be part of the process and hearing the feedback."
Assemblymember Patricia Fahy said, "The Livingston Avenue Bridge Replacement Project is another exciting development helping to revitalize downtown Albany while reconnecting it with our greatest historical and natural asset, the Hudson River waterfront. The Livingston Avenue Bridge will create a new multi-modal pathway from Albany to Rensselaer County and improve the connections between our communities. It illustrates a new wave of targeted and transformative investments in the economic and regional potential of Albany's historic downtown. As we look to build upon this work, reimagine more of I-787 to reclaim and re-access Albany's riverfront, the Livingston Avenue Bridge will complement the ongoing and renewed investment in the core of the Capital Region."
Assemblymember John T. McDonald III, RPh said, "The public hearings for the Livingston Avenue Bridge will provide an important opportunity for community members to provide input regarding the future of the bridge and a vision for what the replacement will include. I look forward to continuing to be part of the process and hearing the feedback."
Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said, "The Livingston Avenue Bridge as it currently stands is a relic of the past that no longer reflects how far we've come in Albany County and the Capital Region in terms of our economy and the interconnectedness of our communities. This replacement will improve transit and trade - by both rail and water - while also boosting recreation by allowing for safe bike and foot traffic across the river. This funding is an investment in our future and will move this critical piece of infrastructure into the 21st century. I'm happy to welcome the public's input on the project."
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, "It is beyond exciting that we are moving forward with the long-awaited replacement of the Livingston Avenue Railroad Bridge. The $400 million investment by Governor Kathy Hochul, coupled with a portion of the $16 billion secured by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for Amtrak infrastructure repairs nationwide, will help complete this shovel-ready project that will not only revitalize the bridge next to the ninth-busiest train station in the nation, but will create a pedestrian and bicycle friendly path across the Hudson River - further connecting Albany and our Riverfront with points east. I urge residents and those who have advocated for a new Livingston Avenue Bridge to join these public hearings to learn more and take advantage of this input opportunity to share what they would like to see as part of the new structure."
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