Gateway arch completes $63M airport upgrade

— Photo from Albany International Airport

The 81,000-pound Airport Gateway Arch spanning Albany-Shaker Road was lowered into place Friday. The installation of the arch completes major upgrades in the Airport Terminal and the construction of a new 1,000-car parking car garage.

ALBANY COUNTY — The $63.3 million modernization of Albany International Airport was officially complete on Friday as a ceremony marked the installation of a gateway arch.

The county’s airport, like those across the nation, saw greatly reduced use during the coronavirus shutdown that began in March. Airport use dropped by nearly 95 percent, Phil Calderone, the airport’s chief executive officer, said in April.

The airport’s main terminal had been built in 1962 and underwent its last significant renovation in 1998. In normal times, about 1.4 million people a year board planes at the airport.

The current project rehabilitated the airport terminal and expanded parking with a new, multi-level, 1,000-space parking garage — a component of a $72.1 million state investment that upgraded the airport and the roads leading to it, including the creation of Exit 3 off the Northway after decades of delay.

The $72.1 million investment includes $22.1 million from the $200 million Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization Competition, first announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo in his 2016 State of the State Address and passed in the 2017 State budget. Additional funding for the airport project was provided by the Albany County Airport Authority and the federal government.

As part of the transformation of the airport, Albany Airport partnered with the New York State Writers Institute at the University at Albany to turn an 800-square-foot, glass-enclosed lounge on the first floor of the terminal into a reading room called the Mario and Matilda Cuomo Pavilion Room, in recognition of the former New York governor and his wife, the parents of Andrew Cuomo.

Mario Cuomo signed legislation in 1984, establishing the New York State Writers Institute and giving it the mandate to support writers and provide them ways to collaborate and nurture their artistic imagination.

Matilda Cuomo established the New York State Mentoring Program, the nation's first statewide one-to-one mentoring program of its kind. The Pavilion Room will feature books, historic materials and visual art and serve as a peaceful respite within the terminal.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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