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COLONIE – The Albany International Airport and the Northway are getting a $92 million upgrade.
The airport will get $22.1 million from the state Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization Competition, which is in addition to $20 million secured by the airport, and the state awarded another $50 million to build a new Exit 4 connector road from the Northway to the airport.
“Albany International Airport is a gateway to the Capital Region, and this modernization project will help maximize economic development and tourism opportunities for generations to come,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “Airports are the front doors to our communities, and these investments in the future of upstate airports are providing new jobs and helping attract new residents, businesses and visitors in every region of the state.”
The money will:
— A new, 1,000-space parking garage that will expand the capacity by 20 percent. The garage will have a heated pedestrian walkway to the airport terminal, and will include along with other lots interactive access control devices that utilize GPS to help customers find available parking spots.
—A rehabilitation of the escalators, restrooms, waiting rooms and food court including new carpets, wall finishes, floor tiles, lighting fixtures and upgraded internet connectivity.
The state Department of Transportation will construct the Airport Connector at Exit 4 in Colonie.
The project, which will provide direct access to the airport from the Northway, was initially slated for next spring but will instead get underway this fall with a completion date of 2020. Funding for the $50 million project was included in the governor’s $100 billion Infrastructure Renewal Plan.
The airport’s main terminal was built in 1962 and underwent its last significant renovation in 1998. About 1.4 million people a year board planes at the airport.
An estimated 40,000 motor vehicles per day use Exit 4 at the Northway and an estimated 102,000 motor vehicles travel over Albany-Shaker Road at that location daily.
Basically the project will reconfigure Exit 4 by creating a flyover for northbound traffic. The new ramp will travel over the Northway, loop behind and to the west of the Desmond Hotel and come to a T-intersection with Albany Shaker Road.
For traffic traveling south, a new off ramp will be constructed behind the Desmond Hotel and connect to a flyover ramp that will lead to a new intersection.
The plans also call for a new, direct on-ramp from Route 155 at Exit 5 to the southbound Northway, eliminating the need for the existing frontage ramp off the southbound side of the highway.
On the northbound side, the on-ramp adjacent to the Times Union building will be extended all the way to Exit 5 for Route 155.
A noise wall is planned for the northbound side between Exits 4 and 5.
The existing northbound Exit 4 off-ramp will only allow right hand turns onto Wolf Road.
The project also calls for new sidewalks on the south side of Albany Shaker Road between the connector road and Wolf Road as well as a shared use path between the airport and the connector road.
The connector road will free up large tracts of commercially zoned land for re-development, according to the press release.
In October 2015, the DOT completed Phase I, a $22.3 million project to replace the bridges carrying the Northway over Albany-Shaker Road. That project replaced two bridges that were built as part of the original Northway construction in 1959.
“The new connector road will not only benefit those whose destination is the airport but will also improve traffic flow on Wolf Road and Albany Shaker Road,” said Colonie Supervisor Paula Mahan in a statement.