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Capital Region News

Discussion Continues On Development Of Albany’s South End Connector

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Plans are being finalized to implement the second phase of Albany’s $1.7 million dollar South End Connector project.

The South End Connector is a new shared use trail below I-787 between Church Street and the Broadway and Quay intersection in Albany's South End neighborhood. Last July, officials marked the completion of Phase One of the passage that runs underneath the 787 overpass linking two larger trail systems: the Heldeberg Hudson rail trail to the south and the Mohawk Hudson bike trail to the north.

During the third and final in a series of public meetings this week, officials engaged residents in a virtual brainstorming session to consider ideas for siting amenities, lighting and other spaces along the shared use trail, ranging from water fountains to chessboards to parking space for food trucks.

Planners say an extra benefit is that the trails run close to Albany Housing Authority properties. Marie Adams is a co-founding partner of Landing Studio, an urban design and architecture practice that specializes in improving infrastructure spaces.

"We've already entered into the design development phase of the project where we've started to work on the drawings for construction. And our goal is to put the project out to bid and find a contractor by the end of the summer so that construction can start by the fall."

Safety modifications are being considered along with community input so the connector could become a neighborhood hub. Adams says because of the size of the connector area, the project's budget and design had to undergo some tweaking.

“So we tried to be really creative about how we were using resources and, and looked at consolidating and moving around some parts. So specifically, as we looked closer at the Rensselaer St. area that you see right here with the fitness stations, we realized that this was really the narrowest space in the whole path system, where you really kind of pressed up between Church Street and the railroad. So why not shift the activities that were proposed there to an area with more space, which is Ferry Street, and then take what we were proposing at Ferry Street, which was the kids bicycle track, and move that all the way down to Fourth Street, which is where there's the flexible food truck space.”

Adams says combining the track and vending spaces will save money without having to choose one over the other.

Lauren Alpert with the city Department of Planning and Development says project design is nearly complete, but there is still time for neighbors to weigh in.

"We'll be working on that for the next I would say month or so. And we'll be at the South End Night Market again in July if people have more comments or ideas, and they want to come share that with us."

Proponents of the South End Connector project say it will become a vibrant link from the South End to the waterfront, downtown Albany, and the regional and statewide trail system.

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