12/01/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/01/2021 09:36
Schumer Says Bridge Connecting Albany And Rensselaer Poses Safety and Economic Concerns; Bridge Failure Would Effectively Cease Passenger Rail Travel North and West of Rensselaer And Halt Hudson River Travel, Devastating The Regional And State Economy
Amtrak's Slated To Receive $22 Billion From The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, Including $16 Billion For Its National Network That Can Be Used For Projects In The Empire Corridor
Schumer To Amtrak: Livingston Ave Bridge Is A Lynchpin For NY's Transportation, Prioritize Its Repair Now Before It Proves A Bridge Too Far
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced a major push to secure critical repairs for the nearly 120-year-old Livingston Avenue Bridge in Albany. In the letter, Schumer urged the CEO of Amtrak, William Flynn, to work in partnership with NYSDOT and CSX to address the future of the Livingston Avenue Bridge, saying that he fought for the $16 billion for Amtrak's National Network for projects just like the repairs needed for the Livingston Avenue Bridge.
Schumer explained the aging rail bridge, which connects Albany and Rensselaer, is in desperate need of repairs due to antiquated machinery and design, which may cause the mechanism that allows the bridge to swing open to accommodate marine vessels to fail. Schumer said the bridge is a vital connector for the Capital Region, and New York State, and allowing any of its infrastructure or machinery to fall into further disrepair would have tremendous economic impact throughout the region.
"It's long past time to make critical repairs to the Livingston Avenue Bridge; its aging infrastructure is putting Capital Region economies, businesses, and safety at risk. As Majority Leader, I am proud to have secured over $22 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure & Jobs Act for Amtrak, including $16 billion for its national network that can be used for projects in the Empire Corridor like the Livingston Avenue Bridge," said Senator Schumer. "But now it's time to put that money to use in places we need it the most, and to put fellow residents to work making these vital improvements. That's why, I strongly urge Amtrak to use this rare opportunity to address this vital infrastructure asset that will soon turn 120 years old."
Schumer added, "The pandemic has revealed the need for nature and safe outdoor transportation, like bike and walking trails, even in the heart of a city; a new Livingston Avenue Bridge must include a pedestrian component that will link the well-developed walking and biking trails along the river. This would provide the Capital Region a tremendous opportunity for economic development, tourism, and a reconnection to the historic Hudson River waterfront."
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, "The bipartisan infrastructure bill allocates billions of dollars for some of our most under-invested and over-utilized rail lines, and one of the most deserving projects of this funding is the construction of a new Livingston Avenue Rail Bridge. This shovel-ready project will not only revitalize the bridge closest to the ninth-busiest train station in the nation, but it will create a pedestrian and bicycle friendly path across the Hudson River - further connecting Albany and our Riverfront with points east. I thank Senate Majority Leader Schumer for his commendable leadership for securing this vital funding, and echo his call for Amtrak to make this critical investment as part of the historic Build Back Better infrastructure package."
Schumer explained that as a part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which he negotiated in the Senate, Amtrak would receive $22 billion, containing $16 billion for operations outside of the Northeast Corridor, including Upstate New York's Empire Service. Schumer said that Amtrak should use this unique opportunity to make critical investments in projects like the Livingston Avenue Bridge in Albany.
A Copy of Schumer's letter to Amtrak appears below:
Dear Mr. Flynn:
As you know, two weeks ago I had the honor to attend the ceremony on the White House South lawn, as President Biden signed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law. I know that you share my view that this long-awaited achievement will be transformative for our transportation infrastructure, and the $22 billion that Amtrak will receive plus the $44 billion in FRA grants will allow us to revolutionize our passenger rail system.
A significant part of the funding that Amtrak will receive is $16 billion for lines and operations that are not part of the Northeast Corridor, but do include the Empire Corridor that runs north up the Hudson Valley from New York City to Albany and then west along the Mohawk Valley to Buffalo, including connections between Albany and Montreal. I am writing today to urge you to-in partnership with NYSDOT and CSX-place the highest priority on addressing the future of the Livingston Avenue Bridge as part of this funding. The bridge, which spans the Hudson River between Albany and Rensselaer, is a critical lynchpin in the ability to operate passenger rail service both west and north of Albany, and marine traffic north of Albany including the Erie Canal. The superstructure of the bridge was built in 1902, on piers that date back to 1866. It has become more difficult over the years to maintain the mechanism that allows the bridge to swing open to accommodate marine vessels, due to the antiquated machinery and lack of available parts. If the bridge was to fail, it would severely hamper, if not make impossible, the operation of through passenger trains west and north of Rensselaer, and could also jeopardize millions of dollars annually in commercial and tourist marine traffic north of the bridge including the Erie and Champlain Canals. Moreover, a new Livingston Avenue Bridge must include a pedestrian component that will link the well-developed walking and biking trails that have been established on both sides of the river. This provides the Capital Region with a tremendous opportunity for economic development, tourism, and a reconnection to the historic Hudson River waterfront.
A dozen years ago, the ARRA funding provided us with the opportunity to add the long needed second track between Albany and Schenectady, alleviating bottlenecks; build a beautiful new station in Schenectady; make significant improvements at the Albany-Rensselaer station, including a 4th track and platform. At that time, there was some funding for design work for the Livingston Avenue Bridge, but the capital cost of a new bridge was beyond that funding opportunity. When I was working to craft this bipartisan infrastructure bill, it was projects like the Livingston Avenue Bridge that I had in mind. Numerous state and local elected officials have told me that this is a top infrastructure priority in the Capital Region, and certainly the top rail priority.
I was proud to fight for, and secure the $16 billion for Amtrak's National Network, including Empire Service infrastructure. Now, I urge you to use this rare opportunity to address this vital infrastructure asset that will soon turn 120 years old.