Interstate 787: it's the worst.

Okay, that may be a slight stretch, but it's still not great. As a driver, it's long, winding and confusing to those who do not drive it on a daily basis. From above and below, meanwhile, it's a complete eyesore, and is obstructing the growth and development of an area in Albany with huge potential: the Hudson Riverfront.

Albany Riverfront, with 787 in the background (Google Maps)
Albany Riverfront, with 787 in the background (Google Maps)

For months, if not years, the conversation has raged on among Capital Region residents and lawmakers: should we change 787, and if so, how?

An answer to both questions may be coming soon, however, due to a recent investment made into the issue by New York State.

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New York State Commits $5M to "Re-imagine" Interstate 787

According to a report from The Times Union, the New York State Department of Transportation has committed $5 million to a study that will work to "re-imagine" the design of Interstate 787 in downtown Albany.

The ultimate goal? Find a way for the interstate to allow drivers to commute within the Capital Region without interruption, while also not being intrusive to the riverfront area.

Mohawk Hudson Hike Bike Trail (Google Maps / Lobus Caecilius)
Mohawk Hudson Hike Bike Trail (Google Maps / Lobus Caecilius)

The study is being described as a "feasibility study" by state officials, because the study will be examining the different development plans that have been pitched in the past, deciding if one has more benefits than the other, and most importantly, work on putting price tags on any plan that's pursued in Albany.

The Three Major Plans for the Development of 787

As outlined by The Times Union in their article on the subject, there are three major development ideas that have been pitched in recent history regarding Interstate 787. All three will likely be examined by the feasibility study.

The plans are:

  1. Turning it into a ground-level boulevard, opening up 92 acres of space next to the river. This idea was floated by the Albany Riverfront Collective.
  2. "Capping" parts of the highway, turning sections into long tunnels and building/expanding natural areas above the capped tunnels.
  3. Digging a canal along Broadway downtown, allowing water to go into the city, but not making any major modifications to the highway itself.

Each proposal will be studied, costs will be estimated, and the feasibility of a 787 transformation will begin to come into focus. Also being examined will be the impact on traffic patterns that each proposal would have. The ultimate goal here, of course, is to find a way to allow traffic to flow at a similar clip, and not create any new major stoppages.

No matter what the result ends up being, the $5 million investment shows that change is being taken very seriously, and that is a huge step in the right direction.

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