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Walking hard

Hudson Valley Rail trail gains access to Hudson River foot bridge

by Erin Quinn
May 18, 2010 02:54 PM | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
L-R:  Highland Town Councilwoman Nancy Hammond, Congressman Maurice Hinchey, Town Supervisor Ray Costantino, President of the Board of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail Association Claire Costantino, Councilman Jeff Paladino and HVRTA Board member Everton Henriques.
L-R: Highland Town Councilwoman Nancy Hammond, Congressman Maurice Hinchey, Town Supervisor Ray Costantino, President of the Board of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail Association Claire Costantino, Councilman Jeff Paladino and HVRTA Board member Everton Henriques.
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Last week, Congressman Maurice Hinchey joined Town of Lloyd Supervisor Ray Costantino, members of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail Association and other local and community leaders to break ground on Phase II of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail project. More than 75 people swelled the Hamlet of Highland to celebrate the pending connection from the rail trail in Lloyd to the Walkway Over the Hudson.

Plans call for a 1.3-mile eastward expansion of the trail from Commercial Avenue to the Walkway Over the Hudson on Haviland Road. When Phase II is completed in mid-October 2010, walkers and cyclists will enjoy a paved, 12-foot wide Class A trail that spans the entire distance from Tony Williams Park on Riverside Road to the City of Poughkeepsie.

“This rail trail extension is another step forward in the development of a national trail system that includes recreational, scenic and historic trails that connect communities, restore open space for public use and enable more people to discover the great outdoors,” Hinchey said.

The project is funded with $3.158 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which the congressman strongly advocated for. The contractor, Merritt Construction of Saugerties, will hire 10 to 12 construction workers over the course of the project, according to Supervisor Costantino.

“This trail will allow access for all of our residents -- whether cycling, walking, pushing a baby carriage, in a wheel chair, running -- to enjoy the outdoors and the excitement and scenic beauty of our natural resources and the great resource of the Hudson River and Walkway,” Costantino said.

He explained that the extension, which is ahead of schedule and slated for completion in September, is being done without tapping into Highland’s tax base. When Costantino was previously the supervisor of Lloyd in 1999, he successfully negotiated a “right of way” reserve fund whereby a fiber optic company that wanted to lay lines along the Highland Rail Trail paid them for that right of way.

“That money has been in a separate account and waiting for a project like this to tap into,” said Costantino. “It has allowed us to plan and design, and pay our great architects and engineers at no cost to our taxpayers.”

More than that, Costantino believes that this connection will “only help to increase the economic boost our local businesses, cafes, restaurants, B&B’s -- even our local optometrist -- have been seeing from the excitement and enthusiasm and tourism the Walkway has brought.”

Highland has already planned the grand opening of the new extension, slated for the second week of October.

“And we’re now in the design plans for another extension to New Paltz,” said the supervisor, explaining that his administration, with the support of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail Association, has a long-term plan to link to the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail in New Paltz and beyond.

“We’re going to move westward towards Central Hudson and Lowe’s and eventually connect to New Paltz,” he said.

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