ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Whether you travel it every day or not at all, Interstate 787 is a main artery connecting people in Albany with its Hudson River neighbors. And it is a sight that some in the Capital Region would like to see gone.
“What’s going to end up happening is that it is going to create an area that we can feel good about again. That riverfront should be celebrated; the waterfront should be celebrated and enhanced and be able to access it. Right now, we can’t access it,” says Scott Townsend with the Albany Riverfront Collaborative.
Since 2019, Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy has pushed for a feasibility study of the interstate. Fahy says 787 was “overbuilt”. “787 never met a fraction of the projections that were there for traffic,” Fahy says, “so there are ways to do this. Some of it is going over and some of it is converting some of that highway to boulevards.”
Now, three years later, around $5 million was approved in the state budget to begin work on a study which will go over everything from modifying or razing parts of the highway, to the impacts it will have on traffic and the economy, Fahy tells NEWS10.
“There’s multiple ways and you can do this in a staged manner. None of this is going to happen overnight. But some of this can happen in the next couple of years. If we do a serious analysis, we need to have a serious vision. I think we all have to keep the goal in mind,” the assemblywoman explains, “the goal is reconnecting downtown Albany to its waterfront. But it all has to be tied to economic development. Nobody is trying to stop traffic or stop those from coming in and out of Albany. We want Albany to be a destination place so there’s a way to do these and to do it right but is that why we need a traffic study. A feasibility study and a cost estimate. A timeline, and most important probably is that economic impact analysis.”
While one of the goals with reimagining the highway is to help economically, a business in downtown Albany says potentially removing the highway may hurt their business.
“People come here because it’s easy access off of Clinton Avenue,” says Tess Collins, owner of McGeary’s Irish Pub in downtown Albany, “and stay at the hotels and come to all the restaurants downtown and I’m finding that a lot of people are doing that because economically its an easier thing to do, so I don’t think it’s going to hurt us by having 787 here. I think it’s a help to us.”
Scott Townsend with the Albany Riverfront Collaborative says the highway is nearing the end of its lifespan before work must be done to replace parts of the aging infrastructure. If 787 was to be removed, he says, he and the Collaborative would like to see a boulevard in its place, “because then you can make it easier to traverse and everything but it’s also from a maintenance standpoint a lot easier to maintain. The cost of maintaining that compared to what we have now, you can’t even compare.”