SCHENECTADY — The state Department of Transportation received two bids for construction of a new Schenectady Amtrak rail station, and both appear to fall within the $15 million budget the state set for the long-delayed downtown project.
The new rail station, which like the former station will be a two-story building on Erie Boulevard just north of State Street, will replace a building that was deteriorating and widely seen as a liability for the city, as it has sought to rebuild and create a new image for the downtown area.
At a bid opening Thursday in Albany, Murnane Building Contractors, of Plattsburgh, submitted the apparent low construction bid, at $10,435,900. Also bidding was Jersen Construction, of Waterford, with a bid of $11,383,000. They were the only two bids received under a design-build system, in which a single contractor would be responsible for all aspects of construction.
Artist's rendering. (Provided)
Local officials said the bids were great news, given that an earlier station bid package ended up far above budget and was rejected, and the involvement of Gov. Andrew Cuomo in promoting the project has raised its profile.
"We're glad the bids are in and they're within budget," Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said. "It's great that the project can move forward."
The project has $10 million in federal funding, and Cuomo has pledged the state funds to cover the rest of the cost of demolition of the old station, track repairs and new station construction, up to $15 million.
“The new Schenectady station is so important to our efforts to brand Schenectady County as a tourist destination and to be a catalyst for additional development in our revitalized downtown," Anthony Jasenski, chairman of the Schenectady County Legislature, said in a statement. "We are grateful to the governor for his personal involvement and commitment to making the new station happen and to the project team at NYS DOT."
DOT now has time to review the bids.
"Generally, contracts are awarded within 45 days of bids being opened. We will review these bids in detail and submit the contract to the state Comptroller’s Office and the attorney general for approval before it is awarded," DOT spokeswoman Jennifer Post said.
Both companies are well-established commercial contractors who have done work for the state in the past.
Construction of the new station would be the second phase of a two-phase project. Demolition of the old station took place over the summer under a separate $5.4 million contract, which also included repairs to the elevated viaduct that carries the rails through downtown Schenectady.
Cuomo has taken an interest in the project, listing it among his 2017 priorities in January, and coming to Proctors to announce design changes in July.
Plans call for demolition and track repairs to be completed this year, with the station construction to be completed by November 2018. For now, passengers coming to or leaving Schenectady are using a temporary platform Amtrak built on the north side of Liberty Street.
Schenectady officials have said for years that a new train station is important to downtown's redevelopment. The new station is to resemble the demolished Union station more than the utilitarian Amtrak station that opened in 1979.
The plans suffered a setback in March 2016, when a bid that included the demolition, track repair and construction in a single package came in at $24.5 million — far above what was then a $15 million project budget. State officials responded with a redesign of the station and by separating the demolition/repairs into a separate contract from construction.
About 60,000 passengers per year now board a train at Schenectady, but local officials believe the station could become busier with the opening of Rivers Casino & 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.