COLONIE -- The state has awarded a $50 million construction contract for the new Northway exit to serve Albany International Airport.
The job, which has been in development for several years, is going to Lancaster Development and Tully Construction, a heavy-construction contractor based in Richmondville, Schoharie County. Completion is expected in spring 2020.
The project, called the Airport Connector, is a full redesign and reconstruction of Exit 4 to bring drivers exiting Interstate-87 closer to the region's only commercial airport. About 2.8 million people a year pass through the airport, and economic developers believe improved access will boost the region's economy.
"The Capital Region is an international gateway for tourism and commerce, and this project will not only transform the airport but make traveling and commuting easier for visitors and residents alike," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in announcing the award.
The money is coming from Cuomo's $100 billion Infrastructure Renewal Plan. The contract will be managed by the state Department of Transportation.
An estimated 40,000 vehicles per day use Exit 4, and an estimated 102,000 vehicles per day use the Northway in that area. State officials said the benefits of the project include reducing congestion on Albany-Shaker Road, including its intersection with Wolf Road.
"The project will create a more direct route to this essential airport, making travel faster and more efficient for residents and visitors," said state Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Colonie.
Initial survey work for the project is underway. Clearing of vegetation, earthwork, drainage work, foundation work for the new flyover bridge and utility relocations are all expected to start this winter.
The project will reconfigure Exit 4 by creating a flyover for northbound traffic to reach the airport and a new right-hand exit for southbound traffic, both emerging onto Albany-Shaker Road just west of the Desmond Hotel and Conference Center. The exit will be closer to the airport and will eliminate the need to go through two traffic lights.
The project also includes a new direct entrance ramp from Route 155, the Watervliet-Shaker Road, for southbound Northway traffic, and an extended Exit 4 entrance ramp for northbound traffic, giving drivers more time to merge. A noise wall is also planned on the northbound side between exits 4 and 5.
Airport officials, meanwhile, are planning a $42.1 million project to modernize the terminal and other airport facilities, with $22.1 million in funding coming from the state.
In 2015, the state completed a $22.3 million replacement of the two bridges carrying the Northway over Albany-Shaker Road.