McLaren Completes Technical Feasibility Study for Albany-Rensselaer Gondola
Study finds Gondola is technically feasible and constructible with minimal impacts, and has strong support from stakeholders in both Albany and Rensselaer.
Transformational, environmentally friendly transportation project will connect the two downtown destinations, serving hundreds of thousands annually.
McLaren and its partners have completed a technical feasibility study for an aerial gondola that would connect the Albany-Rensselaer Train Station to downtown Albany, providing a new, reliable and efficient transportation option for commuters, visitors and tourists. The project team found that a Capital District Gondola is technically feasible and constructible with minimal impacts, and has strong support from local stakeholders.
The study, which was launched July 7, identified a one-mile long operating corridor that would begin at the Amtrak Station and head west across the Hudson River to a proposed station on South Pearl Street near the Times Union Center. The gondola would continue to the Empire State Plaza in phase two of the project.
“The findings to date have exceeded our expectations. A new gondola system can be built that will connect the 825,000 people arriving and departing each year at the Albany-Rensselaer Train Station to three important destinations: downtown Albany, the Albany Capital Center and the Empire State Plaza,” said Peter Melewski, P.E., National Director of Strategic Planning, McLaren Engineering Group. “Building off these initial findings, our project team will continue to work closely with stakeholders to secure funding, continue ridership and rider cost analysis, advance the design, and obtain necessary reviews and approvals.”
Total ridership is anticipated to be in the hundreds of thousands of people each year, boosting local sales and tax revenue. The gondola could function 16 hours a day, seven days a week, in most weather conditions, and is designed to initially accommodate 1,200 people per hour. Gondola cars will arrive every 30 seconds travelling at a speed of 14 miles per hour – bringing people from the Rensselaer Train Station to downtown Albany in just over four minutes.
“This project will give Capital Region residents and visitors another way to get around that is fun, fast, and efficient. I am pleased to see all the proper steps were taken with this study, and that construction can be done in an environmentally sound manner. Innovative projects like this are what make our communities so special and among the best in the nation to call home,” said Congressman Paul D. Tonko.
A Capital District Gondola would stimulate economic activity and connectivity at the Times Union Center, Albany Convention Center, residential and commercial development in Rensselaer and Downtown Albany.
“I would like to thank McLaren Engineering Group for undertaking this study to determine the feasibility of adding a gondola to our overall transportation system,” said Mayor Kathy M. Sheehan. “This project creates an opportunity to transform transportation between the Rensselaer train station and downtown Albany, including access to the Times Union Center and the new convention center. I look forward to the next steps in pursuing this innovative and transformational project, which benefits not only Albany and Rensselaer, but the entire Capital Region.”
“Just as the iconic skyline of Albany is best seen from Rensselaer, the addition of a gondola will further economic development on both sides of the river and reconnect our cities in a way not seen since the early 1900s,” said Rensselaer Mayor Daniel Dwyer. “It will increase mobility and tourism to the region, thereby highlighting the central location and breathtaking beauty of our waterfront communities.”
Phase one construction budget is estimated at between $17 and $20 million, and annual operating costs would be approximately $2.4 million. These costs could be offset by a mix of private funds, passenger ticket revenue, advertising, and public funds.
“This project has the potential to help revitalize downtown Albany and Rensselaer, as well as provide an alternative transportation option for Amtrak riders and downstate residents that could bolster tourism and business development in the Capital Region. CEG looks forward to continuing the dialogue with McLaren and our regional stakeholders in the next phase of assessing the project’s feasibility,” said Center or Economic Growth President and CEO Andrew Kennedy.
The study was managed by McLaren’s downtown Albany office and privately self-funded in collaboration with partners Doppelmayr, Capital Gondola LLC, Camoin Associates, Lemery Greisler, Urban Gondola Systems LLC, and Harrison & Burrowes Bridge Constructors, Inc. The project team spent hundreds of hours meeting with key public and private stakeholders on both sides of the Hudson River to gather input.
“We are extremely pleased with the results of the Gondola Feasibility Study. Not only could the gondola enhance the region but has potential to create a spark of increased mobility, tourism and economic development in two areas that are currently underdeveloped,” said Malcolm G. McLaren, President and CEO, McLaren Engineering Group.
If funding can be secured by June 2017, general construction of the gondola can begin in April 2018 and the gondola would be fully operational by December 2019.
“We commend McLaren Engineering Group for initiating the feasibility study to determine scope and construction costs. We look forward to the next steps in the process,” said Capital Region Chamber CEO Mark Eagan.