ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The work to reimagine I-787 continues as Albany leaders navigate the next steps.
“It’s just not about creating access to the Hudson River,” Corey Ellis, Albany Common Council President, said. “It’s about creating a community and healing a community that’s been cut off for so long.”
Reconnecting and reinvesting in Albany’s South End, and other communities impacted by the I-787 bridge, is a key driving factor in the reimagining initiative.
“Because of the redlining, because of the neighborhoods that have been cut off for years, the disinvestment because of a highway going through their neighborhood, we want to make sure those wrongs are right this time around,” Ellis said.
Ellis and Scott Townsend, President of the Albany Riverfront Collective, are current meeting with other small cities and towns with similar development goals, as part of the Community Connectors grant, to find new ideas that can bring new opportunities for development to the Hudson Riverfront.
“There’s going to be a lot of land available and so we are going to need to look at what that land is going to look like down the road and envisioning it so we can work towards it together,” Townsend said. “That’s what makes it a little bit different – this isn’t a highway project, it’s a community design project and I think that so our foundation.”
As they develop a larger plan, a $5 Million Planning and Environmental Linkage (PEL) study, through the New York State Department of Transportation , is underway. A public forum was held in June for community input on what should be done with the nearly 60-year-old highway.
Bryan Viggiani, NYS DOT Public Information Officer, said the DOT has conducted extensive public outreach as part of the study. “We continue to welcome and receive the public’s input as we move toward completion of the study by the end of 2024,” Viggiani said.
In the next six months, Ellis said they hope to establish an organization to finalize some of those concepts.
“If we do our part, we can start challenging that discussion in a different way,” Ellis said. “There’s so many ideas of what people would like to see if 787 comes down, which is great, but we want to make sure whether happens it is coming from the community.”