FRA issues FONSI for New York’s Livingston Avenue Bridge Replacement project

Dec. 22, 2022
With the FONSI issued, New York State Department of Transportation can advance final design for a new Hudson River crossing.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a "Finding of No Significant Impact” (FONSI) for a project that will transformative project to replace the Livingston Avenue Railroad Bridge in Albany and Rensselaer.

The issuance of the FONSI is a key development that signals the end of the formal environmental review process and clears the way for the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) to advance final design for a new, state-of-the-art Hudson River crossing that will improve rail travel across the Empire Corridor, better serve maritime traffic and provide much-needed access across the Hudson River and the Empire State Trail for bicyclists and pedestrians. Construction is expected to begin by the end of 2023.

"The antiquated Livingston Avenue Bridge has caused hardship for rail travelers in New York and throughout the northeast for far too long," New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said. "Replacing this relic of the 19th century is a signature part of our commitment to modernizing New York's infrastructure, and I commend the Federal Railroad Administration for completing review of this project swiftly, which will not only benefit people who ride the rails, but also bicyclists and pedestrians."

Replacement of the Livingston Avenue Bridge was among the key projects cited by Gov. Hochul in the 2022 State of the State Address as part of an aggressive agenda to modernize New York State's aging infrastructure to better connect communities, promote economic growth and improve resiliency. The $32.8 billion NYSDOT capital plan proposed by Gov. Hochul and adopted by the state Legislature includes funding to replace the existing bridge with a modern structure capable of supporting higher-speed passenger rail, heavier freight trains, maritime vessels and bicycle-pedestrian access across the Hudson River.

Issuance of the FONSI by the FRA concludes the federal environmental review process, allows the State DOT to similarly complete the review initiated under New York's State Environmental Quality Review Act and move forward with final design and construction.

The Livingston Avenue Railroad Bridge was built over the Hudson River in the 19th century. It connects Rensselaer and Albany by rail and provides a critical path for passenger rail service from New York City to Western N.Y. Deterioration of the current structure, owned by CSX and leased to Amtrak, limits trains crossing to one at a time at speeds of 15 miles per hour. The new bridge will accommodate improved passenger service while improving access to the Albany and Rensselaer waterfronts and enhancing quality of life on both sides of the river. It will also provide a new connection to the landmark Empire State Trail, which spans 750 miles and runs from New York City through the Hudson and Champlain Valleys to Canada, and from Albany to Buffalo along the Erie Canal.

The current movable swing bridge would be replaced with a new lift-type bridge, which would bring the structure up to modern standards for height, width and speeds for passenger and freight trains and more reliably accommodate marine traffic using the Hudson River. The new bridge will be located south of the existing bridge on a parallel alignment and would carry two railroad tracks.

The approach track work will include improvements to the triangular junction of rail tracks on the Rensselaer side to facilitate train turning movements and the rehabilitation and reconfiguration of the rail bridges over Water and Centre Streets on the Albany side. The new bridge will also include a separate shared use path connecting to the Albany Skyway and Empire State Trail to the city of Rensselaer.

Completion of the new bridge, which is expected by the end of 2026, will build on the success of previous projects in and around the city of Albany, including the Albany Skyway, which transformed an underutilized exit ramp from northbound Interstate 787 into an elevated park that connected the city's downtown to the Hudson River and the landmark Empire State Trail.

"Replacement of The Livingston Avenue Bridge will be a historic achievement that will improve passenger and freight rail service across the northeast and demonstrate, yet again, that no state is doing more to rebuild its critical infrastructure in ways that benefit communities big and small than New York State under the leadership of Gov. Hochul,” said NYSDOT Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez.