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Albany’s Livingston Avenue Bridge, which dates to the Civil War, will finally be upgraded in $400 million project

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez, flanked by city and state officials at Albany City Hall, shares news about building a new Livingston Avenue Rail Bridge.
Dave Lucas
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez, flanked by city and state officials at Albany City Hall, shares news about building a new Livingston Avenue Rail Bridge. (December 21, 2022)

The project to replace Albany's Civil War-era Livingston Avenue bridge is taking a major step forward.

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez says, after decades of inaction, a significant milestone gives the green light to building a new bridge to carry rail traffic over the Hudson River between Rensselaer and Albany.

"I'm happy to share that the Federal Rail Administration has issued a 'finding of no significant impact,' which marks the end of the environmental review process and allows New York State DOT to move forward into final design for this project," said Dominguez. "So as we enter the new year, DOT is going to advance its final design and look to put a shovel in the ground, hopefully by the end of next year, and really kick off this project. This is an important step for both the city of Albany and Rensselaer, for the modernization of not only our state's infrastructure, but fundamentally for the quality of life for the residents of the Capital District, and certainly the many, the thousands of visitors that we get every year."

Replacement of the bridge was among key projects Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul cited in her last State of the State Address to modernize the state’s aging infrastructure. The $32.8 billion DOT capital plan includes funding to replace the existing bridge.

Dominguez says 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 traffic on the Hudson River.

“By replacing the Civil War era bridge with a new modern span, capable of supporting higher speed rail, and heavier freight trains, Amtrak passenger rail service will be more reliable," Dominguez said. "Trains will not have to single track it right now, right now we're weight restricted and CSX freight rail service will be vastly improved, making sure that our commerce moves across the state of New York and goes internationally and around the nation in the way that we want all of our New York goods and services to do. The new bridge will include a shared use path for bicyclists and pedestrians to use to cross the Hudson River.”

The new bridge will be located south of the existing bridge on a parallel alignment and would carry two railroad tracks.

Democratic state Assemblymember Pat Fahy of the 109th district recalled attending a press conference about replacing the bridge more than a decade ago.

“These things do take time," said Fahy. "This was with CSX, and the state and Amtrak and so many partners. So it's taken a while, but it's been worth the wait. It, the timeliness, is more important now than ever. And in addition to connectivity and the quality of life that we've talked about this is not just a feel good investment. These investments are what help attract dollars into this area. We live in a fiercely competitive time with attracting businesses, attracting millennials, and Gen Xers and more into this region. And it is these walkable, neighborhood friendly communities that really will help that.”

Mayor Kathy Sheehan says the span will open access to the Empire State Trail, the Albany Skyway and the Rensselaer waterfront.

“There's so much talk about what we need to do to reconnect ourselves with the waterfront," Sheehan said. "But if we can't get across the river, that connection doesn't mean a whole lot. And so we have been methodically looking at the investments that we can make today as we envision a future 10 years and 20 years down the road. And this project is a linchpin in our vision for reconnecting with the riverfront, for being able to really see the regional gem that we have here. And to be able to look to a future where we no longer feel cut off from what was the source of the history of this city, the reason for its founding so many hundreds of years ago.”

Construction of the $400 million dollar bridge is expected to begin in 2023.

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.
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