Earlier this month, the board of the Capital District Transportation Authority approved the results of a public hearing held in November regarding the potential compulsory purchase of land interests for the long-awaited Uncle Sam Transit Center in downtown Troy.
CDTA has sought—to date, unsuccessfully—to reach a lease agreement with real-estate developer David Bryce, the owner of the Uncle Sam Parking Garage, since at least 2015. The $4 million transit center, sited adjacent to the garage at the corner of Fulton and Fourth streets, would feature an indoor facility with restrooms and ticket sales, along with new waiting area canopies. River, Fulton, and Fourth streets would be modified to accommodate bus contraflow lanes, and the alley between the garage’s north side and the Best Western hotel would become a layover area. Eleven different routes would use the proposed hub, the Times Union reported last year.
Property owner David Bryce, “who’s been holding up the process,” and two of his associates spoke at the November public hearing, board member Mark Schaeffer said at the CDTA meeting on Dec. 13. A CDTA spokesperson could not immediately provide the identity of those associates.
“We are trying work with [CDTA] to move the project forward,” Bryce told The Alt in an email on Wednesday.
All three of the speakers at the hearing “indicated that relations with CDTA historically for the most part have been positive,” a memo distributed to the CDTA board states. “Significant work (time and money) has gone into getting the project to this stage. However, several concerns were raised regarding the engineering of the structures (both the transit center and the garage) with respect to how they would work together. Additional issues were expressed regarding aesthetics, costs, safety considerations, and traffic control.”
The eminent domain proceedings were initiated in October, The Alt previously reported. At the board meeting this month, CDTA executive director Carm Basile reiterated his hope that the looming threat of expropriation might invigorate stalled negotiations between Bryce and the transit agency.
“We would appreciate that,” Basile said. “We would rather do it that way.” But in the meantime, the eminent domain procedure—“a painstakingly detailed process”—needs to continue, he said.
A previously published timeline says that CDTA would submit an eminent domain procedure law petition sometime in January. Maps would be filed with the county clerk in March, the same month that construction would start. The project would be completed in November 2018, though at the board meeting this month staff acknowledged the possibility of additional delays depending on the vagaries of contracting.
Corey Bixby, a non-voting board member who represents labor, said the project represents “a huge positive for downtown Troy” that would also benefit bus drivers, who would be able to use “a nice facility with nice restrooms.”
“Hopefully we’ll get there,” he said.
Correction: This story originally misstated the location of the transit center. It is sited at the corner of Fulton and Fourth streets, not Ferry and Fourth streets.