The development of the Dutchess Rail Trail in Dutchess County, N.Y.,
is one of the defining achievements in the 20- year tenure of County Executive William
And so it is fitting that one of his final tasks before
leaving office for retirement last week was to approve plans for the final
phase of the rail-trail, which will join two unconnected segments and provide a
crucial step toward an extensive rail-trail network throughout the region.
Stages one, two and three saw the construction of more than
10 miles of trail from Hopewell Junction to the outskirts of Fairview,
east of Poughkeepsie and the Hudson
River. But the trail was divided into two segments by an
undeveloped section of a little more than one mile, through which passed the
six busy lanes of State Route 55.
Stage four, which Steinhaus signed off on last week, will
see the construction of a 900-foot, five-span bridge for pedestrians and
cyclists over SR 55 and Wappinger Creek, as well as the completion of the
missing section of trail. Design work on the $4.3 million project is under way,
and construction is expected to begin in May or June of this year.
The completion of the Dutchess Rail Trail will no doubt draw
attention to the exciting possibility of connecting the Dutchess to the remarkable
Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park, and on to the Hudson Valley Rail
Trail on the opposite side of the Hudson River.
The Dutchess Rail Trail and the Walkway Over the Hudson are separated by just
one mile of unused rail corridor (see map, above). However, negotiations between Dutchess County and CSX Transportation Corp., the
owners of the corridor, have not yet resulted in a sale or transfer of the
But Steinhaus is optimistic about a future connection
between the two trails.
"I believe there will be a meeting of the minds sometime
next year that will finally allow for the acquisition of that final piece of
property and the linkage between the [Dutchess Rail Trail] and the Walkway to
become a reality," Steinhaus told the
Elsewhere in New York,
there was great news for the people of Columbia County,
with the Copake Hillsdale Rail Trail Alliance announcing it was a step closer
to extending the Harlem Valley Rail Trail.
The group announced it had raised the matching funds
required by a $121,965 New York
State grant to create a
conceptual design and final construction drawings, as well as necessary supporting
studies, for the five-mile extension.
The new section will run north from Copake
Falls through the hamlet of Hillsdale,
near the state's border with Massachusetts.
The expanded trail will link the two communities to the new Roe Jan Community
Library and Roe Jan Park with a safe, off-road path for bikers, walkers,
runners and cross-country skiers.
Officials of Hillsdale and Copake view the trail extension
as vital to bringing more tourists to their communities and attracting new
stores, restaurants and other services.
The extension is being coordinated by the Harlem Valley Rail
Trail Association, a nonprofit group that oversees the existing trail, and
Columbia Land Conservancy, which has been instrumental in working to extend the
trail to its ultimate destination in Chatham,
Map image and photo of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail courtesy of www.TrailLink.com.
Mr. Steinhaus has done a fabulous job and the Dutchess County Railtrail is a treasure. When the connection is made to the Walkway Over the Hudson it will be one of the finest railtrails in the nation.
Please bike riders the sign states stay to the right. Does not mean all over the place, or run me down because I am just walking. Return trips also to the right not down the middle. Please put up a sign for them.
Walkway over the Hudson was spectacular. Enjoy a wonderful time in the area dining at the Culinary Institute of America. The rail trail is an essential link enabling us to return for another wonderful meal.
Both extensions of the Dutchess County Rail Trail and the Harlem Valley Rail Trail in Hillsdale are very welcome news. I cycle both these areas quite a bit and it would be really wonderful for avid cyclists to come to the Hudson Valley River area and do more cycling if these trails were extended. It would certainly be great for the local economy. Keep up the good work
I was especially glad to hear that a connection would be made between the Hudson Walkway and the Dutchess Rail Trail.
Since both of these have been completed in magnificent faashion, the unfinished nine tenths of rail owned bt CSX is a glaring eye sore. This nine tenths has the potential to be a spectactlar portion of the trail which would boast 3 bridges and a spectacular tunnel. I am confident Mr. Molinara will support the aquisition of this link from CSX and the Dutchess Rail Trail will become a treasure unlike any bike trail in the northeast.
GREAT NEWS!! CSX just sold the remaining 1 mile segment to the Dyson Foundation! The cost was $1 million for the remaining route segment to connect the DRT to the Walkway Over the Hudson. In the next few years, the DRT will be connected directly to the Walkway. And this was something I thought would never happen in my lifetime! I look forward to the day when the connection is made.
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