09.21.16

SCHUMER ANNOUNCES $3.5 MILLION FOR NEW DUTCHESS COUNTY BIKE TRAIL DEVELOPMENT; PLAN WOULD EXPAND THE HARLEM VALLEY BIKE RAIL TRAIL WHICH CONNECTS DUTCHESS & COLUMBIA COUNTIES

New Bike Path Would Extend Success Of Walkway Over Hudson And Be A Magnet For Tourists And Dutchess County Bicyclists And Hikers

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) awarded Dutchess County $3.5 million to begin constructing the Harlem Valley Rail trail. The current proposal would expand the Harlem Valley Rail Trail, which connects Dutchess and Columbia Counties. Schumer said these new plans will spur an incredible amount of economic development, by bringing in tourism revenue and increasing local commerce as visitors explore the area and invest in Dutchess and Columbia County businesses.

“Just like the Walkway Over the Hudson, a longer Harlem Valley Rail Trail will create huge benefits for locals, tourists, and businesses. This $3.5 million investment will help launch a major effort to create a new trail that will fuse together 28 miles of trail, bringing tourists to the area and providing local residents and bicyclists with new adventures to explore the beauty of the Hudson Valley,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. “What’s more, the new bike trail could encourage more residents to bike or walk to work, improving the environment in the process."

"Locals and visitors alike know the Harlem Valley Rail Trail as a true treasure that is connecting communities and stimulating the economy in this beautiful and historic stretch of eastern Dutchess County.  The critical $3.5 million secured by Senator Chuck Schumer, himself an avid cyclist, will fund the Millerton to Under Mountain Road piece of the rail trail, bringing us another step closer to full completion," said Assemblymember Didi Barrett (106th District).

“Dutchess County’s rail trail initiative has been incredibly successful in providing recreational benefits to residents and visitors alike. We are thankful to Senator Schumer for identifying the Harlem Valley Rail Trail’s current success and full potential and most importantly, his unwavering support to this project," said Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro.

Schumer explained that the Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association (HVRTA) has been working for years to connect more than 46 miles of trail from the Village of Wassaic in Dutchess County to the Village of Chatham in Columbia County. The Harlem Valley Rail Trail is a multi-use pedestrian and bicycle path aimed at providing alternative transportation choices and recreational opportunities along a former railroad corridor that winds through eastern New York State’s Harlem Valley. The trail head begins at its southern terminus, the Wassaic Train Station, which is the northern-most train stop on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Metro-North Railroad (MNRR) Harlem Valley Line. The trail then extends all the way into Columbia County.

The first segment of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail opened in 1996, and it has been growing in size and scope ever since. According to the HVRTA, much of the abandoned rail bed that extends from the Town of Hillsdale north into the Village of Chatham is in various stages of development. As a result, right now, the HVRTA is focusing on fully connecting the 28 miles of initial trail between Wassaic and Hillsdale. Specifically, it is first looking to complete the eight-mile trail connection between the Village of Millerton (located in Dutchess County) and Under Mountain Road in the Town of Ancram (located in Columbia County). Second, it is looking to connect the tunnel crossing of State Route 22, at the intersection of State Route 22, and Orphan Far Road in Columbia County. Lastly, the HVRTA is looking to complete three pedestrian bridges that would connect to the trail at Black Grocery Road in Copake (in Columbia County).

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