CDTA seeks funding for Albany rapid-transit route

Would establish 8-mile route with limited stops between 3 key locations
A CDTA bus drives along State Street in Schenectady in 2014.
A CDTA bus drives along State Street in Schenectady in 2014.

The Capital District Transportation Authority is applying for the federal funding needed to get a new rapid-transit route between downtown Albany, the University at Albany and Crossgates Mall off the ground.

The CDTA board voted Wednesday to apply for funding under the Federal Transit Administration’s Small Starts program, and to develop a package of information that will let the FTA give the application a rating.

“This is actually very important, because until a project is rated, and rated successfully, there is nothing for our congressional representatives to latch onto,” CDTA CEO Carm Basile said.

The bus rapid transit line, known as the Washington/Western BRT or sometimes the “Purple Line,” would establish an 8-mile route with limited stops between downtown Albany, the university and Crossgates, following Washington and Western avenues. The university and Crossgates stops are among the busiest in CDTA’s system.

Improvements would include construction of a new transit center at Crossgates, construction of a section of exclusive busway between the Harriman State Office Campus and the university campus, and signal changes that will give buses priority over other traffic at times. The cost was estimated in 2014 at $48 million.

The Washington/Western project is one of two rapid-transit routes CDTA is working to develop following the success of the BRT line between Albany and Schenectady in 2011 — a line that is now CDTA’s busiest. The other BRT line, for which federal funding is also being sought, would run from Cohoes and Troy to downtown Albany.

In a development reported to the Troy route, the board voted to enter a 40-year lease for a transit center site at 4th and Fulton streets in Troy, subject to final negotiations with the landlord. Plans are for a major new transit center to be built there.

The meeting in Albany was the first for three new board members: two representing Schenectady County, and one representing Albany County.

Schenectady County is now represented by Jayme Lahut of Niskayuna and Jaclyn Mancini of Schenectady, who were confirmed by the state Senate in June. Lahut is executive director of the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority, and Mancini is director of human resources for Schenectady County. The county was previously represented by Norm Miller of Princetown, with another seat vacant.

Michael Criscione of Albany, who operates an Allstate Insurance agency, will represent Albany County. He takes the seat previously held by Arthur Young.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

Categories: Business, News, Schenectady County

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