SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — City/County and Metroplex officials today joined to announce approval by the Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC) of $11.5 million in funding to improve Erie Boulevard. This funding will help transform the downtown Schenectady’s central artery into the Erie-Edison Corridor, a vibrant technology corridor that will build Schenectady’s business development potential.
“Today, working in close cooperation with the County Legislature, Metroplex and our team in Washington, including Senator Schumer, Senator Clinton and Congressman McNulty, we have secured funding needed to make the vision for a new Erie-Edison corridor a reality,” Mayor Stratton said.
“My father always told me that if you don’t ask you don’t get,” he continued. “For thirty years, he helped this area get its fair share of federal dollars. It is an honor to follow in his footsteps and bring these significant federal funds home to Schenectady. From day one of my Administration, I have been knocking on doors asking for, even demanding Schenectady’s fair share,” said Mayor Stratton.
Susan E. Savage, Chair of the County Legislature said, “The City/County/Metroplex team has done it again. We are working together and it shows. Gone are the days when Schenectady was held back by poor planning and divisiveness. Now we are stepping up to reclaim our rightful place as the birthplace of Tech Valley with this exciting Erie Edison Tech Corridor.”
The Policy Committee of the Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC) met earlier today and approved the Erie Boulevard funding as part of five year transportation improvement plan (TIP) that will allocate federal transportation spending in this area. Following a public comment period, the TIP will become final in May.
According to the TIP approved today, the Erie Boulevard project is eligible for $11.5 million in funding for design and construction. The current five-year plan calls for the project to be designed by 2008 and be completed by 2010. However, working closely with State DOT and with CDTC, the City hopes to receive approval to start design work later this year and start construction after an 18-month design period.
The City and County also plan to pursue additional funding if a State Transportation Bond Act is submitted to the voters later this year.
The goal of the Erie Edison project is to dramatically improve the appearance of Erie Boulevard creating a technology corridor on either side with shovel-ready space for State agencies relocating from the Harriman campus as well as fast growing tech companies.
Metroplex is already working with Highbridge Development on a plan to develop over 50,000 square feed of office space utilizing the former Sears Store on Erie.
Schenectady County is also in the preliminary stage of exploring the purchase of the Trustco Building also on Erie Boulevard.
City Council President Mark. W. Blanchfield said, “I am pleased that our partners in government are recognizing how important Erie Boulevard is to our City and our region. These capital improvements will be the foundation of great things to come on this gateway to Schenectady.”
Metroplex and Schenectady officials have been working on a preliminary plan for Erie Boulevard that would create a center median and still preserve four lanes of traffic. Both sides of the boulevard would be expanded to allow more room for tech buildings on either side. A bikeway to be called the “Schenectady Towpath” will run alongside the boulevard formerly the site of the Erie Canal. Design features in the median and along the towpath will evoke features of the original canal.
Ray Gillen, Chair of Metroplex and Schenectady County Commissioner of Economic Development and Planning said, “By creating places for tech companies and state agencies to locate, the vision of transforming Erie Boulevard has become a reality. We are starting to make the right connections downtown – connecting tech parks with a vibrant entertainment district, bike paths, a new YMCA and other amenities.”