Contracts will be awarded this fall for construction next April

Section: Business,  Page: B8

Date: Saturday, April 17, 2010

ALBANY -- Work to widen the New York State Thruway in the Capital Region will officially begin this fall when bids are opened and contracts awarded.

Actual construction isn't expected to begin until April 2011, and the project to add a third lane in each direction between Exits 23 (Interstate 787) and 24 (the Adirondack Northway) is expected to be finished by the autumn of 2013.

The New York State Thruway Authority on Friday said it was moving ahead with the project, estimated to cost $115 million.

The authority's chief engineer, Christopher Waite, said the toll highway will remain open throughout the project.

"We'll carry two lanes in each direction, shifting them all to one side of the road, then reverse the process" when the other side is rebuilt, he said.

Drainage pipes and culverts will be replaced, and the existing concrete and asphalt material will be recycled, Waite said.

The road will be rebuilt from the base up, the first time that has been done since this stretch of highway was constructed in 1952 and 1953.

"Everything we rip up will be recycled," Waite said. "The concrete will be ground up and used as a sub-base. The asphalt will be milled" and used in fresh asphalt.

Guide rails will be eliminated where possible, he said, and noise barriers will be erected because the wider road will be closer to homes along the route.

Thruway officials are planning meetings with nearby residents to show them the plans and to get feedback on choices for noise barriers.

David Junkins, deputy director of the Capital District Transportation Committee, which has oversight on area transportation projects that involve federal funding, said this project is being paid for with "all Thruway money."

And Waite, citing "a quiet period inflation-wise," hopes that will translate into lower costs.

The project will "put people to work," he added.

Motorists can avoid the construction by using I-90 and I-787 to get between the two exits.

That, of course, may lead to congestion on those local expressways, particularly during rush hour.