washington fuller realign large

What's up at Washington and Fuller?

albany nano building construction 2011-09-13

The nano empire expands.

You've probably noticed there's a lot going on at the super busy intersection of Fuller Road and Washington Ave in Albany. What with the hill that's now gone, and the large structure rising in its place, it's hard to miss -- whether you're driving along Washington, Fuller or the stretch of I-90 along there.

Here's what's up...

The structure

That building going up where the hill and trees used to be on the northwest corner of Washington and Fuller is part of UAlbany's zillion-dollar College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

Nano czar Alain Kaloyeros announced this week that the building will house green energy research, including that $400something million solar panel research consortium. Kaloyeros is aiming to follow the plan used to make CNSE a player in the computer chip industry -- putting public money together with private funding, with researchers and industry groups working alongside each other. The solar panel research center will involve a lot of names in the solar energy field, and there's been speculation it could make Albany one of the bright spots for the growing solar energy industry. [TU] [CNSE] [Biz Review] [TechCrunch]

For whatever reason, UAlbany had been kind of coy about this building -- but it's not like people weren't going to notice (and there are two more buildings planned). [TU Places and Spaces]

The re-alignment

washington fuller realign cropped

But, wait, there's more. Albany County has been planning to move (yep, literally change the location of) the intersection of Washington and Fuller. This project isn't directly connected to UAlbany, but it will create more room for the Nano Empire.

The planners' preferred design for the project involves moving the intersection north (that is, toward I-90) and installing a roundabout, with an overpass for traffic traveling along on Washington. (That's in addition to a roundabout planned for Fuller at the I-90 interchange just a bit farther north.) The aim is to reduce congestion at the intersection.

The project is still in the design process. Construction is slated to start in spring 2012 and be finished by summer 2013.

There's a large view of the preferred plan at the top of this page -- scroll all the way up.

Washington Fuller re-alignment images via Albany County


Cool! I love roundabouts. I also thought it was going to be weird to have Washington Ave intersect the nano campus - but this looks like a nifty design.

Are you stalking me? I literally asked 3 people today if they knew what was going on there since I hadn't heard any news about it. Nobody knew. I have to assume you're following me around listening to me & then answering my questions online as a way to impress me. And I'll have you know that it's working.

@Arielle: Yes, it's true. I'm waving at you right now.

Whatever happened to daleyplanit? We haven't heard from him since that slightly creepy dog post.

" follow the plan used to make CSNE a player in the computer chip industry "

cNSe not cSNe

Happens all the time ;)

Editors: Erp. Fixed. Thanks. We were trying not to make that mistake, so of course that's exactly what we did.

Roundabouts are fun, but straight through portions are even MORE fun. I really hate sitting at lights. :) also, I like driving around curves, so it's win-win for me ;)

You'd like to take the bus back and forth to your job at the Nano complex. Would you be willing to exit the bus at one of those "proposed local transit stops." Tell me what that walk is like.

I admit that I find the idea of a vast nano-empire amusing.

This is interesting. In the public meetings representatives of Albany County said that this version of the rebuild of the intersection probably would not be chosen since it was the MOST EXPENSIVE of the three plans proposed!

What it show is that what NANO wants, NANO gets no matter what the price tag to New York State and local residents. I am disgusted once again.

I wonder what the cost is going to be to Albany county residents of this rebuild?

The irony of a "vast nano-empire" aside, someone please tell me what the nano-empire is actually doing for the area? Besides the fawning and mouth-breathing that originates from all sorts of uncritical cheerleaders and "Tech Valley" Girls, what do we know about the funding, the revenues, the operations, and the environmental impact of the institution?

What exactly is the relationship between nano-tech and SUNY? Who are the players involved? How did they come to be involved? How public is it? How private is it?

These questions aside, here is my assessment: nano-tech is the result of an intersection of interests between politicians looking to hang their hats on a project that involves some vague conception of "technology" (a technology which they do not comprehend in the slightest and as a result are in no real position to assess their taxpayer-funded creation; but then again, neither are most of the taxpayers, especially considering the level of secrecy and general obfuscation that comes in tow with such projects) and major industrial players looking for tax breaks for a number of years, possibly decades. Somewhere in the interstices of these two major interest-constellations lay those who hope to catch some crumbs from the table: local businesses, academics who can gain funding, and any institution who can make the claim to being in and/or affiliated with "Tech Valley."

So we have in Nanotech and "Tech Valley" generally the recipe for a giant public-private swindling: some corporations will come to take advantage of the tax holiday and the infrastructure, bring much of their own personnel, and leave when the tax holiday sunsets. The politicians will cry foul but ultimately, be powerless to do anything to stop them.

My guess is that this has occurred across the country and will continue to occur until the formula for economic success is reversed: regions need to begin to develop from within and with purpose(s) suited to their needs and realistic capabilities so that corporations will want to relocate to the hypothetical "there" for what the location actually has rather than for what they can be offered in tax breaks.

While the Capital Region has done this to some extent, we largely remain in the first camp, and once we get played in 10-20 years (with little or no growth in terms of wages, tax revenues, and local wealth creation generally), we too shall perform the economic "walk of shame" complete with runny mascara, mucus, and general dishevelment (and we won't even have enough to buy a cigarette to take the edge off). There will be no one to console us. Another day, another play in America's "great" gimmick economy.

Start worrying when a super-high-tech facility expands at a dizzying rate in the midst of a slumping economy, while being vague about its mission or backers. The quiet, major player in this unfolding empire is the U.S. military. Look at http://snipurl.com/v8v7a and then http://snipurl.com/vbdwq . As if it wasn't bad enough we have a nuclear waste site smack in the middle of Colonie, now we have a nanotech weapons research facility in our midst. Take a look at the scope of nanotech weaponry at http://snipurl.com/v8uxl . This is not a good thing.

Good call, nanogoat. We are quickly becoming the new Soviet Union in terms of our economy: prison construction and military development. Both in the face of a slumping economy.
ps-Friday's TU had a whole layout regarding nanotech and its expansion. In the piece, the UAlbany spokesman, Steve Janack, got a kick out of the fact that the TU wanted to know about the new project which, as the article puts it, is "rising amid a shroud of secrecy at the University at Albany's nanotech complex."

Yes, the taxpayers wanting to know where the money is going is the topic of the day. It must be funny because he knows and we don't. I love when cogs in the wheel like Janack get off on knowing something that their overlords tell them but forbid them from saying to the public who pays their salaries. Steve Janack, winner of the "Apparatchik of the Week" award.

@laura, I was at the last meeting. The reason for the most expensive rebuild is 3fold.
1: traffic. this is the busiest intersection in the area and most important route between washington, western, and central.
2: pedestrians/mass transit. barring a massive buildup of trains, buses are our mass transit choice. this intersection makes it safer to get to all 4 directions at the intersection. this is very important because of
3: the college. it drives the micro economy in the area for a couple miles on the feet of the college students, and even farther when they drive. From these perspectives, it's a win.

It doesnt win on cost, and I have my own concerns about drainage (where will the ~12 travel lanes put their snow?)

I know this is an old post, but I only Googled about what was going on at Wash Ave Ext and Fuller today. I used to work on Wash Ave Ext, near Walmart and that road is awful in rush hour. I'm glad they are changing the intersection. However, and entire overpass? Really?! Isn't that a bit extravagant?

Regardless, I was someone who hated circles but I've come to understand that they work beautifully. So I welcome more.

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