Here's why a helicopter will be lifting equipment to the roof of the Corning Tower this weekend

Corning Tower looking up, close up

A handful of roads will be closed near the southeastern end of the Empire State Plaza this Sunday because crews will be using a helicopter to lift materials to the top of the Corning Tower. (The road closures list is below.)

The crews will be moving equipment for a new maintenance rig for the Corning Tower. Joseph Brill, a spokesman for the state Office of General of Services, said the process is planned to include a series of nine lifts, starting at approximately 9 am, which will include more than 11 tons of equipment. The schedule is dependent on the weather.

Why the need for the equipment? Well, in short, it makes it possible to maintain the exterior of the 42-floor building. As Brill explained in an email:

The new rigs replace the original rigs installed on the roof more than 50 years ago. The maintenance rigs are elevators that go on the outside of the building instead of the inside. Their replacement is equivalent to putting new elevators in the tower.
In addition to carrying people, these rigs are specially designed for safety during outside work. They will be able to carry windows and façade stone that need to be replaced and equipment and tools. The rigs will also be used for window cleaning. The new rigs can carry a 3 person crew plus an auxiliary hoist with 1500lb capacity and provide full access to the façade - including the ability to reach into corners.

The original rig was also installed via helicopter, with sections lifted from a spot near Lincoln Park and then flown over to the tower. The equipment for the new rig is being staged on the ground at the Grand Street parking lot.

The Corning Tower was completed in the early 1970s. Back in 2014 it added a small enclosure on the roof for the maintenance rigging. And in recent years the state also refurbished the passenger elevators in the 589-foot-tall building.

Road closures

From the Albany Police Department:

Road closures from 7 am until approximately 5 pm:
+ Phillip Street between Grand and Van Zandt
+ Hamilton Street between Grand and Phillip
+ Sidewalks will be open for residents

Road closures from 8 pm until approximately 5 pm:
+ Eagle Street between Madison and Lancaster
+ Eagle Street northwest at Lancaster Street - Full Closure
+ Phillip Street at Madison Avenue - Half Closure (East Bound Traffic)
+ Arterial from P-1 level ("Mousehole") to Madison Avenue

Structure/Parking closures from 7 pm until approximately 5 pm:
+ Corning Tower
+ Wadsworth Health Labs
+ Concourse corridor from Corning Tower to the Post Office
+ East Parking Garage
+ Grand Street lot
+ Walkway from Concourse level to East Parking Garage
+ All plaza level structures and outdoor areas within 150 feet of Corning Tower
+ P1, P2, and P3 South parking levels

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