The Capital District Transportation Authority board awarded a $7 million contract to Creighton Manning Engineering to lay the groundwork for two more bus rapid transit routes serving the city of Albany.
The board awarded a contract Wednesday for detailed engineering work needed to establish new rapid transit lines along the Washington-Western Avenues Corridor in Albany and the River Corridor between Waterford-North Troy and downtown Albany.
“Basically, this really, really opens the projects up,” said CDTA CEO Carm Basile. “Now you will get into the real engineering, designing routes, designing stops, designing transit centers.”
The engineering details are needed before CDTA can apply for federal construction funding. Authority officials believe they can secure the funding relatively soon. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has already said he will push for it.
“We’re hoping to get construction on the Washington-Western Corridor done in 2017,” Basile said.
Creighton Manning, of Albany, has already done preliminary development work on the projects. It was selected over two other firms that submitted detailed proposals.
Eighty percent of the $7 million contract cost is being covered by federal funds, with state money covering an additional 10 percent, Basile said, leaving CDTA to pay about 10 percent. The spending could be spread out over as many as five years.
CDTA officials said the work will advance the two projects to the point where construction could start, if funding is secured. The cost of developing the two corridors has been estimated at more than $100 million, including the cost of new bus shelters and transit centers, new buses and a new dedicated busway in western Albany.
The work will include detailed design of new transit centers to be built in Troy and Guilderland and construction of a dedicated busway — the region’s first — through the University at Albany campus and the Harriman State Office Building Campus.
The two planned lines would join CDTA’s first rapid-transit line, the BusPlus service running between downtown Albany and downtown Schenectady. The three corridors are the busiest in the CDTA system, carrying 9.5 million riders annually, about 60 percent of the entire system’s ridership.
The success of BusPlus is a major reason CDTA is pursuing the additional routes, Basile said. Ridership on the BusPlus route is up 30 percent since 2011, helping reduce the number of private vehicles on the road.
“We have been successful beyond our projects on Route 5,” Basile said. “It has changed perceptions. Our ridership has gone up, and these [other routes] are the two most rapidly growing corridors in the region.”
In other news, Basile reported system ridership totaled 1.5 million boardings in April, 2 percent higher than in April 2014. The 2014-15 fiscal year set a ridership record of 17 million boardings.
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