The state Thruway Authority on Friday announced $210 million worth of work on Capital Region portions of the Thruway, including a massive project of the six miles between Exit 23 and Exit 24.
The project is part of a $637 million overhaul of the 1950s-era superhighway, marking the largest one-year capital investment in its history. Included in this funding is $115 million that will add a lane in both directions between the two Albany exits and rebuild the subsurface of the highway.
“These critical investments will not only save money on repairs in the future, when they’d be more costly, but will create jobs during a time in which they are desperately needed,” said Gov. David Paterson in a statement released Friday.
Chris Waite, the chief engineer of the project, said the road reconstruction project is desperately needed. He said clay beneath the highway in the area leads to poor drainage, which in turn causes the pavement to deteriorate at a faster pace than other areas of the Thruway.
In addition, only two lanes run in either direction between the two exits. As a result, this section of Thruway can become congested during peak travel times.
“This stretch of Thruway is one of our busiest and one that’s in significant disrepair,” he said. “The pavement has been falling apart for a while now.”
The sub-base of the highway between Exit 23 and Exit 24 has remained largely untouched since it was first constructed. Waite said the concrete road surface was paved with asphalt during the late 1970s, but hasn’t had a full overhaul since its construction more than five decades ago.
Bids for the work are to be solicited in November. Waite said work will likely begin in spring 2011.
During construction, traffic will be shifted over to one side of the Thruway and should continue to travel as normal through the two-year duration of the project. Waite said a concrete barrier will separate the lanes moving in either direction and the roadway will be slightly narrower, but it shouldn’t affect the rate of travel.
Funding for the full $367 million project will come solely from Thruway toll revenue. Waite said an additional $500 million is expected to be released for a slate of projects in 2011.
“Hopefully, we’ll have a road that will last the next half-century,” he said.