Livingston Avenue Bridge Media Advisory

NYSDOT & Federal Rail to host Public Hearing on High Speed Rail, future of Livingston Avenue Bridge held in balance
When: Tuesday, March 4, 2014; Open House 4-8 p.m. and Public Hearing 6-8 p.m. 
Where: Albany Nanotech Complex, 257 Fuller Road, Albany, NY 12203
Who: State and Federal transportation agencies, elected officials, county and local planning and economic development officials, advocates for the Livingston Avenue Bridge, Amtrak, CSX
What: The Federal Railroad  Administration (FRA) and the New York State Department of  Transportation (NYSDOT) have completed a Tier 1 Draft  Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to evaluate proposed system improvements to intercity passenger rail services along the 463-mile Empire Rail Corridor, connecting Penn Station in  New York City with Niagara Falls Station in Niagara Falls, New  York. This corridor includes the stretch of track between the Rensselaer Rail Station and the Schenectady Rail Station. 
A DEIS describes the positive and negative effects of a proposed government sponsored project by outlining alternative scenarios that may be chosen for a particular project in order to make informed decisions. The DEIS is used to accurately assess the environmental, physical, social, and financial costs of each project alternative. The Empire Corridor DEIS proposes four Alternative Scenarios for the implementation of High Speed Rail in New York State. The scenarios are grouped together by estimated average speed of travel: Base (current), 90mph, 110mph, and 125mph. The Base alternative does not address replacement of the Livingston Avenue Bridge. Each of the remaining scenarios proposes the replacement of the Livingston Avenue Bridge. 
How does this affect the Capital Region: The current Livingston Avenue Bridge was constructed in 1902 with a pedestrian walkway that provided safe and simple access to both sides of the Hudson River and permitted crossing on foot between the Cities of Albany and Rensselaer. The Walkway, having suffered from years of neglect, was closed decades ago. The likely replacement of this bridge provides an opportunity to reestablish a bicycle and pedestrian connection that is both safe and cost effective. Several transportation studies and municipal and county resolutions on both sides of the bridge acknowledge the critical importance of restoring access to the waterfront and reestablishing this critical link in the growing regional bicycle trail network.  The Empire Corridor Draft Environmental Impact Statement does not acknowledge the walkway, support for the facility, or Federal Rail’s own report outlining best practices for developing rail with trail facilities. 
Advocates for the Livingston Avenue Bridge will have a strong showing at the public meeting to encourage NYSDOT and Federal Rail to acknowledge the Livingston Avenue Bridge walkway in each of the High Speed Rail alternative scenarios. The Livingston Avenue Bridge Walkway is a critical component of the state-wide and regional bike and pedestrian network – thus, it is imperative that the Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Empire Corridor acknowledge the benefits provided by this facility to ensure it is developed along with a replacement or rehabilitated river crossing. Specifically, advocates are requesting the following be added to the Teir 1 DEIS:
● Inclusion of the Livingston Avenue Bridge Walkway benefits
● Recognition of the 2002 Federal Rail Administration report on Rails with Trails
● A Title VI and Environmental Justice Analysis of the scenarios
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