Demolition of 1970s Building Makes Way For $23 Million Modern Station
(July 11, 2017, Schenectady, NY) Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced demolition of Schenectady Station is underway, making room for a modern, new rail station to connect travelers to New York City, Niagara Falls and beyond. The fully accessible station has a total project cost of $23 million, supported by $17 million in state funding for construction costs and an additional $2 million in state funding for engineering services and other project costs. The project is in addition to $181 million in key rail improvement projects recently completed along the Empire Corridor in the Capital Region, easing congestion, modernizing service, shortening travel times and improving accessibility for intercity passenger rail customers traveling between New York City and Niagara Falls.
“The new Schenectady Station will provide modern conveniences to rail travelers, support the continuing renaissance of the city’s downtown and create a new entryway to the community, helping connect it to the rest of the state,” Governor Cuomo said. “This station, combined with other significant rail improvements in the area, will improve efficiency and reliability, enhancing the rail passenger experience throughout New York, and supporting our historic infrastructure investments statewide.”
Work started this spring on preparing the site for the new station, including constructing the new station platform and concourse. The New York State Department of Transportation will advertise this fall for a company to construct the new station building, which is expected to open by late next year. Exterior daytime renderings are available here, exterior nighttime renderings are available here and interior renderings are available here and here.
The station project compliments three federally funded City of Schenectady projects that recently have made $16.5 million in improvements to Erie Boulevard, including a $1.5 million project that is rehabilitating it from Union Street to Nott Street this year. That project includes repaving, improved pedestrian accommodations and new pavement markings and traffic signals. An $11.6 million project completed in 2015, redeveloped the roadway from I-890 to Liberty Street with streetscaping, a raised, planted median, traffic signal improvements, enhanced drainage and new curbing and sidewalks. Last year, a $3.6 million project installed a roundabout at the intersection of Erie Boulevard and Nott and Front streets, helping to ease traffic congestion at that busy location.
The building design has been improved to be more passenger friendly and better highlight Schenectady’s history. The new station will be slightly larger than the old station. Its design draws inspiration from the architecture and aesthetic of the former Union Station, built on the same site in 1910. The design features a red-brick façade with grey stone pilasters and cornices framing the building. At the main entrance there will be a central, gold-domed clock tower topped with a weathervane in the shape of New York State. The building will have multi-story arched windows and a green canopy to shade and protect travelers from the elements on three sides of the building.
Inside, the station will feature images of the Erie Canal and former Alco train yard, an artifact wall decorated with small hand tools, lanterns and other historical memorabilia from the city, and a map on the floor of the entrance highlighting Schenectady’s location in New York State along primary passenger train corridors. The interior also features high vaulted ceilings and a brick feature wall with a large central clock. Plans are for the station to include coffee kiosk, charging stations, and Passenger Information Display Systems with up-to-date train status.
A new concourse will provide access to a new station platform, including a new elevator. The platform will provide secondary egress for emergency use.
The new station and four other significant rail projects were made possible by a landmark agreement Governor Cuomo brokered in December 2012, a long-term lease between CSX Corporation and Amtrak, which allowed Amtrak to take control of the 94-mile Hudson Line between Schenectady and Poughkeepsie. That newly gave passenger trains priority over freight trains and paved the way for four significant projects and other work that will result in significant service improvements on one of the busiest commuter and freight corridors in the nation. Twenty-six passenger trains a day travel the Hudson Line, operating at speeds up to 110 miles per hour.
Minor work is being finishing up on these projects, which were progressed jointly by the New York State Department of Transportation and Amtrak. The projects received $155.5 million in federal funding, including $147.6 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009. Matching funds of $23.15 million were provided by New York State.
Since the 2012 lease agreement, New York State and Amtrak also have completed approximately $40 million in maintenance repairs and improvements, including bridge deck replacements, bridge and culvert rehabilitations and curve patching. They also have replaced about 80,000 railroad ties between Rensselaer and Poughkeepsie in the last two years. Another 55,000 ties are scheduled to be replaced this summer.
In addition, New York State recently was awarded more than $33 million in Federal Railroad Administration grant funds to further enhance rail safety by installing Positive Train Control technology on the Hudson Line Section of the Empire Corridor between Poughkeepsie and Schenectady. Positive Train Control systems are designed to prevent incidents such as derailments and train-to-train collisions by removing the potential for human error from train operation.
Positive Train Control systems are integrated command, control, communications, and information systems designed to control train movements with safety, security, precision, and efficiency. The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA) mandated that Positive Train Control be implemented across a significant portion of the nation’s rail industry by December 31, 2015, a deadline Congress later moved to December 31, 2018.
“The new Schenectady Station will provide modern conveniences to rail travelers, support the continuing renaissance of the city’s downtown and create a new entryway to the community, helping connect it to the rest of the state,” said Governor Cuomo.
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew J. Driscoll said, “Governor Cuomo knows how important transportation is to mobility and growth. In New York State, passenger rail service is critical. The new Schenectady Station and the other local rail projects are helping to improve service, accessibility and reliability all across the state.”
The new Schenectady Station will be larger than the existing station, which was built in the 1970s. The station will provide comfortable waiting and ticketing areas, as well as greatly improved accessibility for people with disabilities.
Parking and bicycle and pedestrian access also will be improved. The parking layout will be redesigned and sidewalks, lighting and bike racks will be added. Landscaping will enhance the facility.
Congressman Paul Tonko said, “The ongoing transformation of the Schenectady rail station adds to the investments in this community that will pay dividends for decades to come. Rebuilding this station not only adds to the safety and reliability of rail transportation in our region, it also supports our local economy including businesses and residents alike. I look forward to working with Governor Cuomo and other state and local leaders to expand on efforts like this to rebuild our infrastructure and lay the groundwork for strong economic growth in Schenectady County and beyond.”
Senator Jim Tedisco said, “By easing congestion, improving reliability and providing state-of-the-art technology to passengers, the new Schenectady Station will be an important asset to the Capital Region’s transportation infrastructure system. This new train station will be a gateway for visitors to the revitalization that’s occurring in downtown Schenectady and will help bring more people and commerce to the 49th state Senate District. I look forward to working with Governor Cuomo to see this important project completed.”
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara said, “As a Civil Engineer now serving in our State Assembly, I know transportation infrastructure is critical to the economic growth and vitality of upstate cities like Schenectady. As the Electric City continues to become an upstate destination, this amazing project brings 21st century engineering and technology to make travel safer and easier for residents and visitors from across the state to come and take part in all we have to offer. With the Governor’s support, we have another significant investment that complements our amazing downtown, brings new opportunity to our area and adds to the success we have seen here in Schenectady over the years.”
Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said, “From the new casino and mixed-use development at Mohawk Harbor to the downtown arts district anchored by Proctors Theater, we are transforming Schenectady into a hub of cultural and economic activity thanks to investments from Governor Cuomo. The station will build on those investments to create a new gateway to our city and attract even more visitors and revenue. Thank you, Governor Cuomo, for your commitment to revitalizing Schenectady for current and future generations.”
Schenectady County Legislature Chair Anthony Jasenski said, “The Governor’s laser-focus on modernizing and improving infrastructure across the state is delivering for Schenectady County residents. The significant milestones reached at the Schenectady rail station are exactly the kind of progress we hope to continue seeing throughout the entire city. Once complete, this station will catalyze the city’s continued resurgence, transform the way people do business in and around Schenectady, and support a more sustainable economy for generations to come.”
Schenectady County Metroplex Authority Chair Ray Gillen said, “After years of putting up with the crumbling old Schenectady Station, we are taking action to replace the building with a 21st century station worthy of Schenectady. The new station will improve travel to and from Schenectady for our residents and draw new tourists and new economic activity to the region. This is a long overdue project, and I am grateful for Governor Cuomo’s unrelenting commitment to turn this project into a reality. The Schenectady Station is a testament to the Governor’s dedicated efforts to rebuild the transportation infrastructure all across the state.”
Schenectady Community College President Steady H. Moono said, “The reconstruction of the Schenectady rail station is a significant investment for our community that will benefit New Yorkers for generations to come. The transformation of the rail lines will attract more tourists, increasing economic productivity, and will improve travel for all residents. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for his commitment to the people of Schenectady and for his work to improve aging infrastructure across New York State. His initiatives pave the way for future success and growth in Schenectady and throughout the state.”
Rivers Casino General Manager Mary Cheeks said, “The Capital Region has grown and improved tremendously thanks to the Governor’s commitment to enhancing all it has to offer and investing in new assets to attract new business and excitement. The new Schenectady Station will bolster those transformative efforts, make Schenectady more attractive to tourists, and provide more opportunities to residents for travel. I look forward to working with Governor Cuomo to continue to revitalize the Capital Region.”
Philip Morris, CEO of Proctors said, “It is so rewarding to be able to watch Schenectady’s transformation unfold through projects like this. Governor Cuomo sees this city’s great potential, and by modernizing and expanding our existing assets, we can reach that potential. Efficient infrastructure is key to the prosperity of any city, and with the new Schenectady Station, we will reap the benefits of new economic and tourism opportunities for generations to come.”
Due to construction, Amtrak passenger operations have temporarily moved to the nearby Liberty Street Parking Lot. Amtrak will continue to own, operate, and maintain the new station on the site of the existing Amtrak station, located on 332 Erie Boulevard. Amtrak also will contribute to the new passenger information display system at the new station.
Governor Cuomo has successfully competed for and won scarce federal passenger rail funding over the last several years. At the Governor’s direction, New York has capitalized on limited federal funding and provided additional matching funds to complete some of the highest priority projects identified in the New York State Rail Plan.
New York has also made key investments in new rail stations in Niagara Falls, which was completed this winter, and Rochester, which will be completed this summer. Major upgrades are happening downstate as well, with the completion of Phase 1 of the Moynihan Station project and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s work on the Harold Interlocking project.