Schenectady County

Removal of Latham water tanks slated

The federal government has awarded $6 million in economic stimulus money to remove the two Latham Wa

The federal government has awarded $6 million in economic stimulus money to remove the two Latham Water District water storage tanks near Northway Exit 6, which are a potential hazard to jets landing at Albany International Airport.

The grant means the tall tanks could be removed late this year or early next year, after a decade of planning and waiting for funding.

“This federal funding will allow this long-planned project to move forward much sooner than expected,” U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer said in announcing the funding.

The distinctive red-and-white checkered towers are a landmark familiar to thousands of people who travel the Northway every day. Located on a ridge overlooking the interstate, they are the main storage facilities of the Latham Water District, which serves about 80,000 people,

The money means construction of a replacement water tower near the Loudonville Reservoir should start this year, followed by removal of the two towers in Latham, said Doug Myers, a spokesman for the airport.

The larger of the two towers, located just east of the Northway, extends 56 feet up into the potential “glide slope” of landing airplanes.

“The big [tank] penetrates the glide slope. That’s why it’s a safety issue,” Myers said.

Planning for the project, which has a total cost of $10 million to $11 million, has been under way since 1999. Myers said the award from the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act should be enough to complete the project.

“We’ll start this year,” Myers said. “It will probably take more than one year.”

The planning, a cooperative effort between the airport and the town of Colonie, began in 1999. The Federal Aviation Administration two years ago awarded $3.2 million for the first phase of work, which included construction of new water mains to the new tower site. That work began last year.

Federal legislators said removing the tanks is a major safety improvement for the airport, which is itself a regional tool for economic development.

“These much-needed federal funds will improve the Albany International Airport by removing the water tower, helping planes take off and land safely and efficiently,” U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said in the funding announcement.

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