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What you need to know for 09/20/2017

Cuomo proposes added funds for Schenectady station

Cuomo proposes added funds for Schenectady station

Bids for new building were way over estimated cost

Plans for a new Schenectady Amtrak station are poised to move forward after the governor proposed infusing the project with additional state funding.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed during his State of the State address Wednesday in Albany investing a total of $15 million in capital funds to replace the existing Erie Boulevard station. The exact amount in new funding was not immediately clear, but the announcement places a renewed focus on the long-stagnant project, and officials said it will help get the rebuild back on track.

The governor highlighted the proposal as part of a state-wide effort to modernize and improve transportation hubs across the state. The Schenectady station in particular is expected to see an increase in traffic with the Rivers Casino and Resort opening nearby next month.

Previously, the state Department of Transportation budgeted roughly $15 million for the overhaul, though some of that came from federal funds.

The state has pledged to commit a total of $15 million for the project, but it’s unclear how much of that money will be a fresh investment.

Representatives with the state Department of Transportation could not be reached Wednesday for further comment regarding a specific funding breakdown.

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said following the governor’s address that the state will contribute some additional money to bridge the financing gap and allow the project to move forward starting this year. He’s hopeful the project will be completed in 2018, he said.

“Anybody that’s gone through that station, it’s an embarrassment,” McCarthy said. “It doesn’t reflect the quality of the community we’re building. We’re doing demolitions in the neighborhoods, working on home ownership, getting the casino online, and that train station is just an embarrassment.”

Last March, officials with the state Department of Transportation put the project out for bid, but only received one response. That number came in about $10 million over budget. Since then, the bids to demolish and rebuild the station have been split in two, but the project has largely remained in limbo.

The existing depot was built in the late 1970s to replace the old Union Station, which was knocked down about a decade earlier. The Schenectady station handled about 61,000 passengers in 2013, according to Amtrak.

The station, located at the corner of Erie Boulevard and Liberty Street, has been the focus of multiple improvement efforts over the years. In addition to the complete station overhaul, a second rail line is being installed between Schenectady and the Albany-Rensselaer stop.

Work on the second track is ongoing, and is expected to be finished this spring.

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