New study proves aerial gondola over Hudson River to Albany could work

RENSSELAER, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Getting from the Rensselaer Amtrak station to downtown Albany can be difficult, but a new transportation study that was just completed hopes to fix that.

Local commuters are one step closer to stepping up their transportation options. By up, we mean high above the Hudson River and roadways with an aerial gondola.

Local engineers say the decades old cable technology could bring new relief for travelers who get off at the Rensselaer Amtrak station, then need a way to get to the Capital. Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan says the project just makes sense.

“This is a link, we are the 7th busiest Amtrak station in the country so this is a station that gets a lot of passenger traffic and I think again when they walk out sometimes, they think they took the train to Albany and they realize they’re not in Albany,” Sheehan said.

A four month long feasibility study just completed by McLaren Engineering Group proves the gondolas could work.

The study identified a one mile long operating corridor starting at the Rensselaer Amtrak station heading west across the Hudson River, to South Pearl Street near the Times Union Center. A second phase would continue the ride to Empire State Plaza.

Construction costs are estimated between $20-30 million dollars with the hope of funding it with mostly private money.

“Cable systems or gondola systems per mile are much cheaper to build than a new highway or a new bridge or a light rail system or so forth,” said Peter Melewski of McLaren Engineering Group.

So, how do commuters feel about the proposed gondolas?

“It would just increase efficiency in getting to and from the station,” said traveler Brianna Gutierrez. “It’s just a lot of people have issues getting here.”

“I think just simply, it would be a convenience to people,” said traveler Anne Wermer. “They wouldn’t have to concern themselves [with] how to get into the city, especially if they’re going for business. This is the capital of New York.”

Another traveler, Rita Reynolds says she’s “all for it.”

The next step is to secure funding for the project. If that can happen by 2017, then construction could begin.

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