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Connecting the Capital District: Local initiatives to provide pedestrian paths spring up

The county was given $70,000 to purchase the property from the not-for-profit Scenic Hudson organization and the state's Department of Parks and Recreation.

"There are a number of rail trails right here in the Capital Region," said Bethlehem Supervisor Jack Cunningham. "The Corning Preserve path is an old rail bed."

Cunningham said the proposed Helderberg-Hudson trail would be able to link Bethlehem to various parks, sidewalks and pathways around town and offer a possible commuting options for locals.

"It is my belief the more that we create in terms of safe pathways as an alternative to motor vehicle use, the more likely people are to use them," Cunningham said. "More people are likely to ride their bikes to work in Albany if they can cruise into the port without hitting any traffic."

The established Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail runs from the Corning Preserve in Albany to Rotterdam Junction in Schenectady County. It is part of the Canalway Trail System that will eventually run nearly 500 miles from Buffalo to Albany when it is completed. It is slated to follow the course of the original Erie Canal.

According to Albany County Public Works Commissioner Michael Franchini, state, county and local cooperation in building and maintaining pedestrian pathways is nothing new, but the details can vary from project to project.

"The Hudson-Mohawk trail starts in Albany and goes west but there's different entities that actually own it," Franchini said. "The state purchased the property and has municipalities maintain it. That's one model we use. That municipal agreement has been in place for 25 years, and it's worked out pretty well."

Albany County maintains some of the off-road sections of the path in Menands and Cohoes, he said.

"We haven't worked it out with the Helderberg-Hudson trail yet," Franchini said. "We'll probably be looking for partners to help with maintenance."

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