Full Albany Airport Connector Project to be Completed One Year Ahead of Schedule
Exit 3 Opening Is Major Step in Completion of Project Delayed for Decades
Governor Cuomo: "We're doing two things now - fixing the airport, upgrading the facility but also accessing, improving the access to the airport and from the airport, which will also alleviate traffic in the local area, which backs up because of the access to and from the airport... Three words you very rarely hear for a government project: this project is ahead of schedule. It's ahead of schedule. The project was supposed to be completed next year and we are only weeks from the total completion... It's something that we take great pride in. People have such a stereotype of government being slow and inefficient and a government project, they say it's going to be done on this day but then it's always late, it's always over budget - it doesn't have to be that way."
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the new southbound off-ramp from the Adirondack Northway (Interstate 87) to Albany Shaker Road in Colonie, Albany County will open this morning. The exit opening is ahead of schedule and the entire project is slated to be completed in the next several weeks one year ahead of schedule. This completion is another step toward the conclusion of the Albany Airport Connector project, a $50 million investment that will provide direct access to the Capital Region's major airport and, after 50 years of delay alleviating traffic along the Northway in both directions. The absence of an Exit 3 has been long obvious as the Northway Exits go from exit 2 to Exit 4.
AUDIO of Governor Cuomo's remarks is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
It's my pleasure to be here today and let me introduce the people who are joining me. To my left, Kelly Cummings who is the State Operations Director. To my right, we have New York State DOT, Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez. And to my far right, New York State Department of Transportation Chief Engineer Wahid Albert.
This is an exciting day. It is a big step in a long journey. The Capital Region has been doing great. The economy in the Capital Region has been doing great. We have more private sector jobs in the Capital Region today than ever before in history. Unemployment is cut in half. So all the arrows are headed in the right direction.
But the economy continues to grow if that region is doing what it needs to do and is continuing to advance itself, right? You look at the Capital Region economy. It is transforming to a global economy - a high tech economy. The nanoscale industry, that is the future for the Capital District.
And at one time, New York States greatest strength was building for that future economy. That is what the Erie Canal is all about. That is what Albany Airport is all about. First municipal airport, 1908 Albany says we are going to build an airport. That is only five years after the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk. Think about how advanced and visionary Albany was being. Five years after the Wright brothers, Albany says we are going to build an airport.
That innovation, that energy, that is what made New York New York, and that is what we have to continue. So, global economy and that is what the Capital District is now.
The airport becomes the front door - the airport is the place that's going to bring people here and take people from here. They're not coming by cars anymore; they're not coming by barge; they're not coming by ferry: They're flying into the Capital District region and we have to have a first-class airport, and that's exactly what we are in the process of doing. The airport itself is being reconfigured with additional growth and the roads getting to and from the airport have to remedied, that is not a new problem, actually the access to the airport has been an issue that was spotted about 50 years ago and just never addressed.
When you go up and down the Northway, people who go up and down the Northway know it well, it goes from Exit 2 to Exit 4. Now even government couldn't make that kind of mistake that they forgot Exit 3, right? There was supposed to be an Exit 3 - like one time there was a sign that said, "Exit 3 coming soon." That sign was up for a number of years - they eventually just took the sign down - but the access to the airport was never completed and never perfected. So, we're doing two things now - fixing the airport, upgrading the facility but also accessing, improving the access to the airport and from the airport, which will also alleviate traffic in the local area, which backs up because of the access to and from the airport.
The last three words - three words you very rarely hear for a government project: This project is ahead of schedule. It's ahead of schedule. The project was supposed to be completed next year and we are only weeks from the total completion. The opening of this ramp today will allow DOT to move traffic to complete the other related road projects that are surrounding this project.
But this ramp in and of itself is going to greatly expedite access to the airport for all the traffic coming from the north. The flyover ramp will be the next large project that's completed, but again there are several other projects that are all part of this which we can speak to but this ramp allows us to move the traffic.
After this ramp, about three to four weeks, the entire road project will be completed, and as I said that's about one year ahead of schedule so that is a job well done. It's something that we take great pride in. People have such a stereotype of government being slow and inefficient and a government project, they say it's going to be done on this day but then it's always late, it's always over budget - it doesn't have to be that way. It doesn't say anywhere in the Bible government must be slow and inefficient and this project proves the exact opposite.
So I want to applaud the Commissioner and Wahid Albert and the entire DOT team that has really done a great job on this project. A few more weeks it will all be finished. It will be finished early. I also want to thank Kelly Cummings, the Director of State Operations who's been on this project on a continuous basis, and that's the only way you get these things done and you get these things done ahead of schedule, is by staying on top of them every day, like a person who is remodeling the kitchen in your home. You need that kitchen back; you stay on that contractor every day and that's how DOT does its job and it's good to see.