COLONIE — The latest section of the long-planning airport connector is now open.
The new southbound off-ramp from the Adirondack Northway to Albany Shaker Road opened midday Sunday.
The new Exit 3 is part of a broader $50 million project linking the interstate to Albany International Airport.
Exit 3, which loops around the back of the Desmond Hotel and connects to a new signalized intersection at Albany Shaker Road, is expected to reduce travel times as well as reduce congestion where Wolf, Old Wolf and Albany-Shaker roads come together in close proximity to four existing Northway ramps.
The centerpiece of the Albany Airport Connector project is a flyover-type bridge that will whisk northbound motorists over the Northway and past the traffic hot spot. The flyover ramp remains under construction.
A smaller ground-level ramp will lead motorists onto the southbound side.
"Exit 3 has been talked about for 50 years and now we are actually getting it done,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement. “We've made great progress at the Northway, and we're not finished yet. Opening this exit will allow the Department of Transportation to move traffic to complete the remaining road modifications while we head to the finish line."
Cuomo appeared with other dignitaries at the site on Sunday.
The project ahead of schedule and the project is slated to be completed in the next several weeks one year ahead of schedule, Cuomo said.
Officials said the project and access to transportation infrastructure is a central part of the region’s economic growth.
“When fully complete, this project will not only make roads around the airport easier for travelers, but further economic development opportunities in the Capital Region,” said state Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez.
Other changes include:
- A new Exit 4 on the southbound side of the Northway will provide better access to Old Wolf Road.
- Albany Shaker Road is being widened between Wolf and Meeting House roads.
- A new direct on-ramp to the southbound Northway from Route 155 at Exit 5 will eliminate the need for the existing off-ramp on the southbound side.
- The on-ramp at the north end of Wolf Road will be extended all the way north to Exit 5.
At the same time, Albany International Airport is undergoing $54.6 million worth of terminal and parking upgrades, $22 million of it funded by the state, the rest by the Airport Authority and federal government.