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Albany Skyway opens to fanfare; offers new connection to Hudson River

 Governor Kathy Hochul and Albany city and county officials cut the ribbon opening the Skyway, April 29, 2022.
Dave Lucas
/
WAMC
Governor Kathy Hochul with Albany city and county officials cutting the ribbon opening the Skyway, April 29, 2022.

After four years of planning and construction, the downtown Albany Skyway opened Friday.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul headlined the ribbon-cutting. The Democrat hailed completion of the Albany Skyway as a game-changer for the city and the perfect example of a transformative infrastructure project that promotes equity and connectivity.

"This is the Skyway to the future," said Hochul. "This is the future of how we'll use infrastructure dollars going forward, with intentionality of not just fixing roads and bridges and doing basic work, which is so important. And what's not done, you know it, I know about the potholes. Coming after those potholes. But just to use something like an exit ramp. Someone looked at this and said, ‘Why, why why? Why is it like that? Why can't it be better? Why can't we have beautiful plantings and gardens and trees and a pathway to the waterfront over this, the highway.’ This is what a vision looks and feels like, and the manifestation of the dreams of people who thought so boldly. That's what we're going to continue doing in this post-pandemic era. Bring me the boldest dreams. Bring me the craziest ideas, because I'm sure someone thought 'really, could this actually happen?' And we're here today to say 'yes, it did.' That is what I want to continue doing as governor and we'll make those investments."

In 2018, Albany was given more than $3 million in state funding to turn a lightly traveled interstate ramp into an elevated park, giving pedestrians and bicyclists access to the Hudson River, the Corning Riverfront Park and the Mohawk-Hudson Hike-Bike Trail — which is part of the Empire State Trail. Originally expected to be completed by late 2020, the Skyway was delayed when the pandemic struck.

Mayor Kathy Sheehan, also a Democrat, expects more redevelopment in the area, including remediation at the Central Warehouse site.

"We've got to show people what the evolution can look like," Sheehan said. "And so as we stand here and I'm with the [Albany] County Executive [Dan McCoy] and we're looking at the big white, you know eyesore that's here, now that the Skyway’s here I think it helps to reimagine that building. It helps to reimagine the train and the rail bridge over the Hudson. But this is the start of it and it's really exciting."

LivingstonAvRRBridge.jpg
Dave Lucas
/
WAMC
The Livingston Avenue Railroad Bridge

Several other projects are in their formative stages. The governor announced that the public process for the replacement of the Livingston Avenue Railroad Bridge, led by the State Department of Transportation, will continue in June with a public hearing taking place. Hochul says a date and location in the City of Albany will be identified in the coming weeks. The bridge provides a critical link for passenger rail service from the Northeast corridor to Albany-Rensselaer. 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.

Democratic 109th District State Assemblymember Pat Fahy says a full-scale reimagination of I-787 is also in its formative stages.

"We've got $5 million to do a serious feasibility study of cost-benefit analysis, resiliency, climate resiliency, and you name it, to really look at how we begin to fully reimagine the highway, as well as look at the canals that have been proposed, as well as looking at a land bridge going over," Fahy said. "Because these are multiyear projects, and we want to make sure that we can do this in phases just as this bridge, this Skyway was done."

The State Department of Transportation oversaw construction and, working in partnership with the City of Albany, took the lead in constructing the Skyway. The City of Albany will maintain the Skyway.

Assemblymembers Pat Fahy and John McDonald appear in the video clip below.

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Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.