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In New York, Completion of Dutchess Rail Trail Raises Prospect of Link Over The Hudson

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 R. Steinhaus.

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 property.

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 Poughkeepsie Journal.

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, N.Y.

Map image and photo of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail courtesy of www.TrailLink.com.


Posted Wed, Jan 4 2012 12:20 PM by Jake Lynch

Comments

Wayne Dederick wrote re: In New York, Completion of Dutchess Rail Trail Raises Prospect of Link Over The Hudson
on Thu, Jan 12 2012 1:50 PM

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.

Rosemary wrote re: In New York, Completion of Dutchess Rail Trail Raises Prospect of Link Over The Hudson
on Thu, Jan 12 2012 1:51 PM

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.

Elizabeth Von den Hagen wrote re: In New York, Completion of Dutchess Rail Trail Raises Prospect of Link Over The Hudson
on Thu, Jan 12 2012 2:09 PM

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.

Derin Gemignani wrote re: In New York, Completion of Dutchess Rail Trail Raises Prospect of Link Over The Hudson
on Thu, Jan 12 2012 9:44 PM

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

Fred Fisher wrote re: In New York, Completion of Dutchess Rail Trail Raises Prospect of Link Over The Hudson
on Fri, Jan 13 2012 9:56 AM

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.

Tom wrote re: In New York, Completion of Dutchess Rail Trail Raises Prospect of Link Over The Hudson
on Sun, Jan 29 2012 11:28 AM

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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