The Albany Riverfront Collaborative, which includes Principal Scott Townsend and Senior Planner Adam Bonosky, is engaging the community to reimagine the Albany riverfront with walkable boulevards and connected neighborhoods. Their plan, Re-Envision Albany, is a conceptual illustration of the city without I-787, a 1.5-mile section of Interstate serving commuters to the state office complex. The Congress for New Urbanism recently awarded the plan a Merit Award in the Emerging Project category in their 2022 Charter Awards.
Completed in the 1970’s, Interstate 787 had a major impact on downtown Albany. The highway created displacement and disconnection, destroyed neighborhood character, and became a barrier between downtown and the Hudson River waterfront. The communities that were impacted the most were redlined neighborhoods, neighborhoods of color and those impacted by the war on drugs.
Removing the aging I-787 highway will shift priorities away from the car and back to the community inhabitants, establishing a sense of place and pride, and reconnecting them to the natural assets of the City.
The Re-Envision Albany plan balances economic development with the creation of public space to transform rough utilitarian areas into amenities accessible to everyone. The landscape ideas include generous parks along the river, within walking distance to neighborhoods. It would transform Albany’s relationship with the Hudson River. Small civic spaces like playgrounds, squares, and plazas are planned in mixed-use development areas.
“Few other projects stand to usher in such positive transformational change for the city of Albany and the greater Capital Region promising to unleash the real economic and cultural potential of our area for decades to come,” says Patricia Fahy, New York State Assembly member (NY-109).
Since 2019, Assemblywoman Fahy has advocated for a feasibility study to convert some of the interstate from highways to boulevards. In 2022, the New York State budget allocated $5 million towards the study, which will cover everything from modifying or razing parts of the highway to the impacts it will have on traffic and the economy.
“It is now time to conduct a planning process that is comprehensive and inclusionary that leads to reconnected communities, an enhanced riverfront, while considering and accommodating climate change, economic development, public health, traffic and all forms of transportation, affordable housing and the general well-being of a city, its residents, and the entire region.” says Scott.
Read the Congress for New Urbanism blog about the project here: