10.27.14

SCHUMER ANNOUNCES, AFTER HIS PUSH, ULSTER & NEW PALTZ TO RECEIVE MORE THAN $1.7 MILLION IN FED FUNDS FOR VILLAGE SIDEWALK IMPROVEMENTS & TO BUILD CRITICAL MISSING LINK TO CATSKILL RAIL TRAIL – WILL CONNECT NEW PALTZ TO POPULAR WALKWAY OVER THE HUDSON & GREATLY ENHANCE TOURISM AND JOBS IN ULSTER COUNTY

In April, Schumer Came to New Paltz to Urge Federal Dept. of Transportation To Provide Funding For New Town- Approved Bike Path That Will Help Locals Access Rail Trail & Bring Tourists To Region Funding Will Enable New Paltz to Connect to the Catskill Rail Trail – Rail Trail Turning Ulster County Into A Recreation and Eco-Tourism Destination Will Now Benefit New Paltz, Bring More Tourists Schumer: New Paltz Will No Longer Be Left Out Of The Catskill Rail Trail

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that, after his push, Ulster County and the Town of New Paltz will receive a combined $1,796,751 in federal funds to improve Village of New Paltz’s sidewalks and to link the town to the Catskill Rail Trail. Ulster will receive $1,595,123 to connect the town of New Paltz to the Catskill Rail Trail, and New Paltz will receive $201,628 to make sidewalk improvements to Huguenot Street, Church Street, Prospect Street, and Henry DuBois Drive. Schumer stood at DuBois Drive earlier this year to urge the FHWA to approve this funding. Currently, New Paltz is not directly connected to the trail; instead there is a crucial missing link between the Highland and Wallkill Valley rail trails, which prevents cyclists and tourists who use the popular Hudson Valley Rail trails south of Ulster County from crossing into New Paltz. Earlier this year, the Town Board of New Paltz approved a plan to put in a bicycle path along Henry W. Dubois Drive, stretching from Route 32 to North Putt Corners Road, to link the existing trails and encourage more tourists to come to New Paltz, and Schumer said this funding, secured through the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), will help fund the engineering and construction of New Paltz’s proposed trail link. In April, Schumer came to New Paltz and stood at the corner of Henry W. Dubois Dr. and North Putt Corners to urge the FHWA Administrator to select New Paltz’s application, and the Senator also sent a letter of support. Schumer today said that linking these popular trails to Ulster County towns will encourage more tourists to come to the area, boosting the economy and local job creation.

“This federal funding will ensure residents of New Paltz have access to the Catskill Rail Trail and that more tourists pass through New Paltz on their way through the region, which is excellent news for the local economy” said Schumer. “This bikepath will also be good for the environment and local residents’ health. It will provide an alternative mode of transportation for residents who normally drive to work, encouraging more people to choose biking or walking for their commute instead, helping to alleviate traffic along the busiest sections of New Paltz.”

The Catskill Rail Trail has been a terrific resource for the Hudson Valley. In the 1990's, the Ulster & Delaware Railroad was recycled and turned into a recreational trail, which bikers, joggers, walkers, and nature enthusiasts have all used. However, there is a crucial missing link between the Highland and Wallkill Valley rail trails. This has prevented New Paltz and Ulster County from fully connecting to this great trail. The New Paltz Town Board recently agreed on the plan to put in a bicycle path along the Henry W. Dubois Drive, stretching from Route 32 to North Putt Corners Road. This will allow cyclists and walkers to avoid traffic in the village, and connect two major rail trails that run near the Town of New Paltz.

For the engineering and construction of such a link, the Town of New Paltz sought federal grant funding from the federal government, specifically the FHWA’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). TAP grants provide funding for projects defined as transportation alternatives, including on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, infrastructure projects for improving non-driver access to public transportation, and recreational trail program projects.

Schumer said the link to the Catskill Rail Trail would improve the environment, the local economy and improve the quality of life for New Paltz residents.  For years, Henry W. Dubois Drive has been the only real alternative to the busy Main Street (Route 299) for the majority of New Paltz cyclists and pedestrians. Although Henry W. Dubois Drive does have a pedestrian route, it is problematic and dangerous. The road lacks a true shoulder and in some parts, there is not even a sidewalk. Furthermore, motorists often move at high speed on Henry W. Dubois Drive despite the many stop signs. These dangers discourage use of the path by many people, especially families with children. Not only will the construction of the missing link, which will put a bicycle and walking path along Henry W. Dubois Drive, make travel safer for many people but it will also encourage more people to walk or bike instead of drive. Schumer said this will promote public safety and improve the environment by decreasing vehicle traffic.

The bike link will also bring significant economic benefits to the region by encouraging more travelers to stop in New Paltz. Already, the Walkway Over the Hudson brings in over 500,000 tourists a year, of which nearly half come from outside of the region. The Walkway Over the Hudson has resulted in 383 new jobs and $9.4 million in new wages. More recreational activities in New Paltz mean more potential customers for local businesses, restaurants and attractions.. Ulster County is close to New York City and other North-east urban centers, making it an ideal eco-tourism location. With a free, world-class recreational trail, year-round tourism is likely to increase in Ulster and throughout the Hudson Valley.

A copy of Senator Schumer’s initial letter to FHWA Administrator Mendez is available upon request.

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