CDTA Gets State Grant for new Amtrak Station

September 28, 2010

SCHENECTADY — A proposed intermodal station at Erie Boulevard and State Street received a $4.2 million state grant Tuesday, bringing the project another step closer to breaking ground early next year.

The Capital District Transportation Authority is proposing to build a 4,300-square-foot building to replace an existing passenger rail station at the site. Amtrak offers passenger rail service through the Schenectady station.

The state award gives the CDTA, which will operate the station, a total of $8.7 million toward the $13 million project. The CDTA is seeking additional funding from the Federal Rail Administration for the project through the state Department of Transportation.

The state is seeking $138.1 million in federal high-speed rail funding for 10 projects across the state, including six that would improve Capital Region railroad facilities. The FRA will announce recipients of awards in October, said CDTA spokeswoman Margo Janack.

An intermodal station allows different types of transportation, including buses, taxis, bicycles, pedestrian and cars to connect to train services, Janack said. The CDTA operates similar intermodal stations in Saratoga Springs and Rensselaer.

Ray Gillen, commissioner of economic development and planning for Schenectady County, said the intermodal station will tie into the CDTA’s proposed BusPlus service along Central Avenue between Schenectady and Albany.

“The train station will tie into the rapid transportation service CDTA is building along the Route 5 corridor,” Gillen said.

CDTA plans to launch BusPlus in April 2011. BusPlus will provide faster and more frequent service along the corridor, already the busiest for CDTA buses. BusPlus buses will make fewer stops than the No. 55 local, but still link the two cities with the major business and shopping destinations along Central Avenue in Niskayuna and Colonie. Gillen said the CDTA already transports 3 million passengers along the line.

The design of the proposed intermodal station will reflect the look of the old Union Station, Janack said. Union Station stood at the site from 1908 to 1972.

Gillen said the project is ready to launch as soon as CDTA obtains final funding. “This is a shovel-ready project that can get under construction in 2011,” he said. The work would take about a year to complete.

“CDTA did a great job with the application with support from Schenectady County and the city, as a new train station is one of our top economic development goals,” Gillen said.

Gillen said the intermodal station is part of efforts to install a second track between Schenectady and Rensselaer. The $91 million cost to build the second track is included in $151 million the state received from the federal government last year.

The federal government has yet to release the grant to construct the second track, however. The second track will relieve a bottleneck between the two cities in both passenger and freight rail service.

Eventually, the state hopes to build a third track for high speed rail, where trains can reach speeds of 120 mph and higher, along the Empire Corridor, which runs from New York City to Buffalo. That project will cost more than $4.5 billion to complete.

The Capital District Transportation Committee provided CDTA with the $4.5 million toward the project earlier.

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