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CDTA adds detail to eminent domain docs amid Bryce’s challenge

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CDTA adds detail to eminent domain docs amid Bryce’s challenge

At a special board meeting on Thursday, the Capital District Transportation Authority added detail to documentation underpinning its effort to expropriate land adjacent to the Uncle Sam Parking Garage for a major bus station in downtown Troy.

Included at the recommendation of CDTA staff and a project consultant, the new details mostly pertain to “conditions in the local area,” Chris Desany, vice president of planning and infrastructure, said at the short meeting. The addition was made in response to a legal challenge brought last month by real-estate developer David Bryce, who owns the garage, CDTA communications director Jaime Watson told The Alt.

The extra details do not materially change CDTA’s determination related to the taking, but their addition will “ensure that there’s clarity [and] less potential for questions or confusion or anything like that,” Desany told board members Thursday.  

Bryce’s petition, in part, complains that only one CDTA board member attended the public hearing in November—and that a staff memo later received by the board “devoted but a single sentence of a single paragraph to the actual substance” of concerns voiced at the time. The board also “never reviewed” the hearing transcript, the lawsuit says. 

The petition contends the $4 million project is unnecessary and too costly. Asked earlier this week if there were any significant developments in the ongoing proceeding, Bryce’s attorney said there was “nothing to report.” 

Watson, the CDTA communications director, could not immediately provide The Alt a copy of the newly adopted determination and findings. The previous iteration was adopted on Dec. 13. An updated version of the staff memo mentioned in Bryce’s petition, included in Thursday’s agenda packet, adds several bullet points that essentially hew to what is already publicly known about the proposed project.

As currently envisioned, the Uncle Sam Transit Center would consist of a climate-controlled facility with ticket sales and restrooms at the corner of Fourth and Fulton streets. Canopied seating areas would extend in both directions. Buses would idle between the garage’s north end and the Best Western Franklin Square. Contraflow bus lanes would circle the garage. The hub would accommodate nearly a dozen different routes, serving thousands of customers daily.

“High levels of existing ridership, undersized passenger waiting spaces, lack of customer service and convenience facilities and inadequate space to load and stage buses indicate a clear need for an improved facility,” the Dec. 13 findings state. At present, CDTA buses idle on a section of River Street next to Riverfront Park. Drivers use the restrooms at the Best Western, property owner Michael Cocca said at the November public hearing.

The project’s phased construction would last 12 to 18 months, according to the latest staff memo. “Vehicular traffic will encounter short term temporary lane closures during non-peak hour travel times,” the memo says. “Vehicular access to the parking garage for garage customers will be maintained at all times.”

At Thursday’s meeting, board member Jayme Lahut called the project “terrific” and expressed hope that construction would begin “sometime this year.” The authority had previously hoped to have the hub completed and open by last fall, according to a Feb. 2016 Times Union article. After protracted negotiations over a long-term lease with Bryce stalled, the board voted in October to begin the eminent domain process, though officials said they still hoped some sort of non-compulsory agreement could be reached.

If you know anything about this project, please feel free to get in touch (luke@thealt.com). 

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