There was good news Thursday for supporters of a new downtown Schenectady train station.
The first phase of work drew three bids, two of which appear to fall within the $6 million anticipated budget.
The apparent low bidder, among bids opened in Albany Thursday by the state Department of Transportation, was Bette & Cring LLC of Latham. Its price was just over $5.4 million.
The work will include demolition of the current Amtrak station, together with concrete and structural work around the existing station platform and installation of new concrete culverts at several locations beneath the tracks, which run on an elevated berm north of the station.
The culvert and concrete work is supposed to be done with minimal disruption to Amtrak and freight service. It should start this spring, assuming the low bid is accepted without problems.
Also bidding were Harrison & Burrows of Glenmont, with a price of $5.9 million, and W.M. Schultz Construction of Ballston Spa, which bid $9.97 million.
All three bidders are heavy construction contractors well-known in the Capital Region.
Planning for a new station began nearly a decade ago. But after a single contract for demolition and construction came in at nearly $25 million -- $10 million above budget -- a year ago, state officials decided to separate the demolition and construction contracts,hoping to lower the cost.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo this year has highlighted the need for a new Schenectady station, visiting the station in February, and he has promised to provide the funding to get the project done. About $15 million is allocated, most of it federal funding.
Plans call for demolition and track repairs to be completed this year. Passengers boarding at Schenectady will use a temporary platform being built by Amtrak on Liberty Street, and the construction plan calls for the successful contractor to provide temporary bathrooms for passengers.
A separate contract to build the new station is to be put out to bid this fall, with construction expected during 2018. The anticipated budget for construction is $9 million. Cuomo has said he wants to see the station open by late next year.
Schenectady officials have said a new train station is important to downtown's redevelopment. The new station is to be resemble the demolished Union station more than the utilitarian Amtrak station that opened in 1979, and is now deteriorating.
“We are very grateful for the governor’s strong support for the Schenectady station and we are pleased to be working closely with DOT to get the new station built," said Ray Gillen, chairman of the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority. "Today’s bids need to be evaluated by DOT, but we are hopeful that the next stage of this project can move forward quickly.”
A second track between Albany and Schenectady that will eliminate a rail bottleneck is due to open later this year.
About 60,000 passengers per year now board a train at Schenectady, but local officials believe the station could become busier with the opening this winter of the Rivers Casino and Resort, as well as Schenectady County's heightened tourism promotion efforts. The station is also on a planned high-speed rail corridor between New York City and Niagara Falls.