Train station relocation team makes site recommendation, outlines next steps

A team of consultants led by the firm Mott MacDonald has chosen a site just west of the state Route 30 bridge in the City of Amsterdam as the best spot to locate a proposed multi-modal transportation system, which would include a train station, bus station, information/visitor center, and other amenities. The site project includes an “up and over” structure that would allow pedestrians to walk over the train tracks to the station from the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook pedestrian bridge. The plan would also require the removal of the state Route 5 arterial.

Jeffrey Lebsack of Mott McDonald, and Paul Cummings of The Chazen Companies, gave a presentation before the common council on Tuesday night, and explained why the site was chosen over a second option on the east side of the bridge which would have required either full or partial demolition of the Riverfront Center.  According to Cummings, the land to the west of the bridge is more readily available given that the Riverfront Center is private property which would have to be purchased, and the location will be more accessible on the edge of the downtown area rather than in the center. He also said that the second option also presented a greater risk, as demolition of all or part of the Riverfront Center would leave empty space that would require additional developers to build on.

The total estimated cost of the project is $34 million. The project costs are broken down as follows:

  • Property acquisition – $1 million
  • Removal of state route 5 and road improvements – $5 million
  • Construction of multi modal center and platform – $20 million
  • Design and contingency – $8 million

Possible sources of funding for the project could come from a combination of federal and state grants, and possibly the upcoming $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant from New York State.

The consultants also cast a wider vision of “transit oriented development” area that would entail creating a specific zoning district overlay for the downtown area, as well as a generic environmental impact statement (GEIS) that would streamline the zoning and environmental impact processes for new projects that meet certain guidelines, helping to attract private development. The long-term goal for the area would be to return the city’s downtown to a more traditional grid street layout.

Citing recommendations by Mott McDonald, Montgomery County Business Development Center CEO Ken Rose asked the council to consider authorizing a New York State consolidated funding application for $450,000 to fund a $517,500 project which would include:

  • Updating the city’s comprehensive plan and Local Waterfront Revitalization Program to incorporate the transit oriented development plan – $67,000
  • Updating the city’s zoning laws to include a “form based code” overlay for the downtown area which would specify the form, location, and style of desired projects, allowing those projects to be expedited – $100,000
  • Planning, studies and analysis necessary for the removal of the Route 5 arterial – $140,000
  • Due diligence and preliminary design of the multi-modal station – $100,000
  • Preparation of the generic environmental impact statement (GEIS) which would allow developers to forego the usual State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) process – $110,000

The team previously held a public meeting in October 2017 to present the two options. The study was funded by a $115,000 New York State which the city received in December 2015.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.