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A trail of two cities

A trail that will connect the communities of Clifton Park and Halfmoon has been placed first on the Capital District's Transportation Committee's prioritization list of enhancement projects to be recommended for state review.

The towpath will connect the two towns along their southern borders, most likely along Canal Road, according to Eric Hamilton, chairman of the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway Coalition. Right now, there's a towpath trail in the Vischer Ferry Preserve, but it's been abandoned for about a century now. On the Halfmoon side, the towpath trail was filled in the middle of the 20th century. Canal Road goes over that whole area.

The town of Halfmoon has acquired a grant to extend their Crescent trail westward, Hamilton said. The Erie Canal Towpath Community Connector will extend the Clifton Park towpath eastward to connect with the Crescent towpath. The town of Clifton Park has requested $1.68 million from the state Department of Transportation for the project.

"It's going to require some engineering costs, to get around the Northway and to build a bridge over Wager's Pond," said Hamilton. "With that bridge, Clifton Park will have a connection with the Vischer Ferry Preserve."

The CDTC received 23 transportation enhancement program proposals in mid-July. An evaluation team with representatives from NYSDOT Region 1, CDTA, the state Department of Health, Parks and Trails New York, and three CDTC staff members reviewed each project. Prioritization was based on the overall ranking by the evaluation team, the cost effectiveness of each project, and geographic balance of the projects.

In the previous round of transportation enhancement programs, the Capital District received roughly $4 million. While it is unknown what amount of funding will be finally approved for this round of programs, CDTC executive director John Poorman said there is $64 million available statewide, a sum slightly higher than in previous rounds.

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