Ties have been delivered, access roads and staging areas built, and work is getting under way on nearly $200 million in passenger rail improvements in the Capital Region.
The wooden ties will be used to rehabilitate the existing single track between Albany and Schenectady, which has caused delays for years as trains waited for other trains traveling in the opposite direction to clear the track.
A fourth track was always planned for the Rensselaer rail station, but was postponed when money ran out.
The result: Trains often have to wait just outside the station for other trains to clear one of the three existing tracks.
While the improvements — which also include new signals south of Rensselaer that are more resistant to adverse weather, as well as improvements that will make road crossings safer — won’t speed your trip, they’re intended to reduce delays that can add minutes and occasionally hours to your trip.
From Rensselaer, passengers can also take trains east to Boston, north to Montreal and Rutland, and west to Chicago.
So where do the improvement projects stand?
State Department of Transportation spokesman Beau Duffy said Amtrak would request proposals from a short list of contractors later this fall for work that includes the second track between Albany and Schenectady, and the fourth track and platform work at the Rensselaer station.