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Airport connector road and exit reconfigurations

Albany Airport Connector overview

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Terminal upgrades

Albany Airport Terminal Upgrade Renderings 2018-August by alloveralbany on Scribd

The Albany airport's getting terminal upgrades, a new parking garage, and a new connector road from Exit 4

Albany Airport Connector Shaker Road intersection cropped

The Albany International Airport is set to get terminal upgrades and a new parking garage as part of a $42 million renovation -- and there's now a set plan for a new "airport connector" roadway at Exit 4 off the Northway.

The Cuomo admin announced the upgrades and exit reconfiguration Tuesday. Press release blurbage about the planned upgrades for ALB, for which the state is chipping in $22 million and the Albany County Airport Authority is providing the rest:

New Parking Garage -- The project will construct a 1,000-unit, multi-level parking garage, expanding airport parking capacity by 20 percent. The pre-cast concrete garage will provide a heated pedestrian walkway to the airport terminal. Energy-efficient LED lights will illuminate that bridge, enhancing visibility as well as vehicular and pedestrian safety.
Parking Access Improvements -- The project will install new LED electronic signage, car counting devices, and interactive access control devices that utilize advanced GPS technology to locate available parking spaces and provide wayfinding messages that direct motorists to them. The existing parking system is nearly 20 years old and its electronic controls are in disrepair.
Terminal Rehabilitation and Passenger Amenities - The project will rehabilitate the terminal, including escalators, restrooms, waiting rooms and the food court. Improvements will include new carpets, wall finishes, tile floors, energy-efficient lighting fixtures and better Internet connectivity.

(We hope the airport's art gallery and public art get some dollars, too -- they're our favorite part of ALB.)

And here are some bits -- and explainer renderings -- about the new $50 million airport connector roadway and the reconfiguration at exits 4 and 5:

NYSDOT is accelerating the project, initially scheduled to start next spring, and will be advertising for construction bids this week with the project expected to get underway this fall. The project is scheduled to be completed by late 2020. Funding for the anticipated $50 million project was included in Governor Cuomo's $100 billion Infrastructure Renewal Plan.
The project will reconfigure the Exit 4 interchange by creating a flyover for northbound Northway traffic. The new ramp will travel over the Northway, loop behind and to the west of the Desmond Hotel and come to a new T-intersection with Albany-Shaker Road, close to the airport. For southbound traffic on the Northway, a new off-ramp will be built to travel behind the Desmond Hotel and connect to a flyover ramp that will lead to the new intersection.
Project plans also call for a new, direct on-ramp from Route 155 (Watervliet-Shaker Road) 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, creating a longer auxiliary lane that will make it easier for drivers to merge onto the northbound Northway and to depart the highway at Exit 5. A noise wall is planned to be built on the northbound side between Exits 4 and 5. The project will also convert the existing northbound Exit 4 off-ramp to allow for right-turn only maneuvers onto Wolf Road.

The best way to understand the new configuration may be to just look at the diagrams at the top in the large format -- click or scroll all the way up.

The Cuomo admin also posted a video that hypes and explains some of airport upgrades and the connector road:

Comments

BRAVO! it is long, long overdue. It's not perfect, but it's SO MUCH better than just talking about it for another 20+ years. :-) Thought it would have been wiser to build the multistory parking garage on the surface lots behind the existing multistory garage (shorter walk, condensed parking area, could have saved money by funneling into the existing walkway from the garage to the TSA check point, and could have developed the proposed garage site into a true airport hotel.) but, again, Bravo! let's get the shovels in the ground and get this done.

Now the Airport authority needs to get to work at attracting airlines that will fly to places OTHER THAN the Florida leisure market. JetBlue needs to fly from ALB to a hub (BOS? JFK?) or somewhere west (ORD? SLC?) to make connections to the rest of the country. (JetBlue flight from west coast goes to BOS then a 2 or 3 hour layover to take a Cape Air puddle jumper to ALB--woefully insufficient)

Let's keep moving forward

I don't understand how people give such leeway to expensive highway boondoggles like this one as compared to the scrutiny the Albany Skyway project is receiving. Sure, there's certainly things to criticize with the Skyway project, but this project appears to save drivers 30 seconds on their way to the Airport at the cost of $50 million dollars! How is this not receiving five times the scrutiny and outrage that the skyway project is receiving?!? Imagine how much good we could do if that $50 million were spent in the City of Albany...

sounds tricky to inform northbound drivers to wolf rd if it's gonna be right-turn only, you'd need to know to take the first exit 4 if you wanted left. any idea on exit numbers? 4a and 4b?

Sam - there are approximately 1 million people a year using the airport - that is about 3000 people a day, or maybe 2000 cars using this exit every day.
Skyway will be lucky to see 10% of that usage in year 3.

Or, if you want to put things in financial domain, $50M is what CDTA gets every year, not once like this project...

Mike,

Sure, it gets a lot of users. I don't disagree with that part. I just don't see the value in what the reconfigured exits provide. Is saving 3000 people a day maybe 30 seconds of travel time really worth $50 million dollars? Seems like a waste of money to me.

Now if they would get more flights to more places that would be great. Maybe try to compete with Steward for international flights. Ya know because it is Albany International Airport.

Why not go for the obvious and use Exit 3 for the airport?

And where is the gondola going to connect to the airport?

I had to laugh this morning when a guy on the radio said how this would increase the number of people using the airport. Really? Are these people currently saying "well, I'd fly out of Albany, but that extra traffic light really is too inconvenient and you have to go past a few stores. I'd better go to Stewart or Bradley"? Or, from the opposite direction, "Oh great! Now we can finally make that visit to Albany we've always dreamed of because the airport has easier access to the highway!"

Who would have thought that the way to finally get Exit 3 made after 30+ years was to just name it 'Exit 4 II: The Other Exit 4'.

Thank you for not putting a roundabout over there!

Sam,

Normally I'd agree(ish), but this corridor is a nightmare. Exit 4 southbound to Wolf Road has never made sense; it *feels* like an improvised temporary solution, and is basically redundant already given the proximity of Exit 5. The northbound exit to Wolf Road is similarly nonsensical for traffic headed toward the airport and holds up traffic in all directions as a result. The entire corridor has always seemed to me (not a traffic engineer) a bit haphazard and unsafe, relatively speaking. The reconfiguration looks like it will not only lessen delays (which I think may be slightly more than you are estimating given how many stopped cars I regularly pass on my bicycle ride along Albany Shaker), but likely will also enhance safety. Re-locating the desmond entrance opposite wolf road in itself will be a benefit. I wish they could also have reconfigured the exit 4 northbound on-ramp as that queue will likely still get pretty backed up, but that seems like a heavier lift. All-in-all this is a huge improvement over current conditions and has been in the works for a long long time (per https://www.dot.ny.gov/regional-offices/region1/projects/i87exit4/history, it has been on CDTC's docket since 1992 with studies reaching back another ~20 years).

That said, the only part I'm actually excited about is the multi-use trail connection to Ann Lee Pond...been waiting 5 years already for that...what's another 2 i guess.

Sam -
This project has been on the books for years. There was a full Environmental Impact Statement you can read here: https://www.dot.ny.gov/regional-offices/region1/projects/i87exit4/reports-documents . It's naive to say this hasn't received extensive and thorough study and scrutiny. The Skyway project is in the conceptual stage so it is obviously receiving scrutiny at this point in time.

Sam - of course many things are just a waste of money for those not directly affected by the project. Improvement of traffic flow is not the worst way to waste them in terms of things like air quality or dealing with irritated people around you.
First, just being pedantic: $50M is for entire package, including parking (which would likely pay off just from parking fees) and airport renovation. Road part itself is likely in $10-15M range.
Second,If you look at it from out-of-area visitor perspective, who is getting nickel and dimed (rental car tax and hotel tax just for starters) getting something specific for the visitor in return for those money - instead of pouring into bottomless city spending - is a nice touch... Or, just numerically, if 1 million people saves 1 minute, that means $250k/year are spent - at a rate of $15/hour governor is pushing for. Given that it is 3 traffic lights in series, 3 minutes is a more reasonable estimate - and that quickly brings the project into paid off domain. That is before considering any accidents caused by drivers being lost in traffic pattern

I really don't see the value in this new interchange. All I see is another intersection chokepoint with a 90 degree turn left onto the airport road instead of a left then a right. How about figuring a way so that you have merging traffic instead of a stop light?

How is this comparable to the monorail, err, Skywa, in the least? If that thing ever gets built it will be the best example of Albany corruption and pork ever.

Hopefully developing a more dedicated exit for the airport means there's an eye toward investing/expanding the airport itself.

I don't travel a lot, but when I do it's been very expensive to fly out of ALB. It's been cheaper to pay for gas, tolls, parking/transit in NYC or Boston plus airfare than just airfare out of Albany.

I travel east on Albany Shaker to go home in the evening, going thru the Old Wolf and Wolf Road intersections. From around 4:30 to 6:00 PM the majority of this traffic is headed for I-87.

I can see that moving the south bound exit to the west could alleviate some traffic since south bounders can get to the on ramp sooner (unless you're coming from Old Wolf Road), it doesn't help traffic that's destined for north bound which still must travel under I-87 to the Wolf Road intersection and then turn left onto the on-ramp. That intersection is always gridlocked because north bound gets backed up from both Wolf Road and Albany-Shaker. I don't see the new interchanges helping north bound traffic.

I had hoped for a full interchange that allowed east-bound Albany-Shaker to have new on-ramps to both north and south bound I-87. So, yeah, a little disappointed.

Whatever happened to a full exit 3 interchange?

Jeff - the current configuration has three traffic lights between I-87 northbound and the airport - with very short distances between each one which creates traffic backups.

The new configuration has a single traffic light at the end of the much-longer exit northbound ramp, which should prevent backed up traffic on the highway. It's a huge improvement from the northbound direction. I'm not as familiar with the traffic to the airport in the southbound direction, but at the very least, the new ramp is a more straightforward route to the airport.

It would be nice to have that traffic from I-87 merging directly onto Albany Shaker instead of the ramp ending at a traffic light / intersection, but that would require yet another flyover to get traffic from I-87 northbound onto the correct side of the street. And when you start looking at the surrounding area, it would likely require the demolition of Hotel Indigo and or the Desmond, etc... or would put a flyover ramp within the FAA obstruction-free zones at the end of the runway.

To complicate matters, a bunch of this project area lies in wetlands, which I'm sure further limits the options available to the designers/engineers.

Bob - a highway which was to connect to exit 3 (as well as exit 5A on I-90 and airport) never materialized, for better or worse. So Exit 3 on I-87 has nowhere to go in a current configuration, neither land for ramps nor roads to connect.
If this project would be signed as Exit 3, Exit 4, or entire highway will be fully renumbered to current FHWA standards is to be seen. We may talk about it once ramps start to materialize..

I like the idea of better connectivity to the airport. However I hate the plan. There should be no stop lights to and from the airport, that interchange on the west side of hr Desmond will be a challenge to travelers coming and going. I understand that we are talking about a small amount of time waiting for lights to change. However, other major cities (and state capitals too) have a much MUCH better connected highway system to their airport. these small things go a long way with investors as they are constantly comparing metro feature after metro from one city to the next. This is less about waiting and more about becoming a city and metro area that can eventually rival the likes of other top metro areas, albeit we are about 30 years behind most all of them. Initiatives like this help us get there.

Now if we could just get a beltway...

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