Rail Trail Extension Hopes to Boost Tourism

On March 23, local officials announced a $3.6 million extension of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail that will bridge the gap between New Paltz and the Walkway Over the Hudson. 

The $3.6 million construction, which will be funded by the state, grants and a local match will be done in two parts that will now provide cyclists with a safer road to Poughkeepsie by the fall of 2018. 

“This is actually an extremely exciting project for the county that directly affects students,” said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein. “It’s going to be game-changing for transportation and tourism in the county as well.” 

Hein is referring to the soon to be accessible path that will allow students coming from Westchester or New York City to travel to the Metro-North train station in Poughkeepsie by bike. It will also attract more tourists who are interested in taking a “no car required” vacation. 

“Because you can take your bike on the Metro-North, you can bike easily back and forth, experience the county, come up for a holiday and then be back home never having used a car,” Hein said.

The first phase of the extension will be constructed by the Town of Lloyd, where they will add seven-tenths of a mile to the trail, as well as a tunnel running under the South Riverside Road. The second phase will be constructed by Ulster County and the Department of Transportation, where they will add 1.25 miles of trail, extending to Route 299.

The Department of Transportation will also add new pavement markings and signs to indicate where the trail will continue for another 3.25 miles, which will lead to Route 32 in New Paltz and eventually to the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. 

This $3.6 million extension of the Rail Trail is apart of the recent ongoing efforts to improve the trail. This includes construction being done to the bridge over the Wallkill River that reopened in October 2017. 

The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail also underwent additional construction in November 2017 after the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) awarded an estimated $400,000 in Hudson River Estuary grants.

Third-year digital media management major and cyclist club president Greg Navarro is very excited for the extensions of the trail. 

“This is an important step towards recognizing that cycling is a valid form of transportation and ensuring a safe path for those of us that travel this way,” Navarro said. “Implementing a trail like this will also motivate people to lessen their carbon footprint.”