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Altamont ready to improve trails

The Village of Altamont has finished the planning stage and is getting ready to develop walking and bike paths, according to Altamont Mayor Jim Gaughan.

The Capital District Transportation Committee awarded the village a $27,000 grant as part of its Linkage Program to be used to improve walking and biking trails.

Village officials designed a Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan based on the 2006 comprehensive plan and will use the grant money to make those plans a reality, Gaughan said.

He said the public has had the opportunity to write in recommendations and comment in person, with the last public comment period on Thursday, Jan. 8.

Gaughan said the village could begin implementing the recommendations within two months.

It will be dictated by our financial situation, Gaughan said.

He also said the long-term plans for the village include a "creative" way to connect Altamont to Voorheesville, possibly connecting to the rail trail that will extend from the Port of Albany into Voorheesville.

"This is not going to happen overnight," Gaughan said of bridging the 8 miles between the two municipalities.

Another long-term goal will be the creation of a historical walking tour.

Some short-term goals include improving the safety and signage along the existing trails, installing more bike racks and increasing the connectivity of walking and biking paths.

Jason Purvis, senior transportation planner for the Capital District Transportation Committee, said Altamont is one of seven "priority areas" designated for the CDTC's linkage program. The program offers assistance in "regional-local planning initiatives that link transportation and land use," according to information from the CDTC.

Altamont was awarded the grant in the spring of 2008 and hired Alta Planning and Design in June to help figure out how to execute the linkage plan.

Purvis said 75 percent of the grant is federal funding, while the remaining 25 percent is local.

Alta, the Village of Altamont and the CDTC are the primary driving force behind executing the plans.

"We are right there. Those three parties run the program," Purvis said.

However, Purvis said, the public and an advisory committee, which includes Albany County officials, the New York State Department of Transportation and Mayor Gaughan, discussed the direction the pedestrian and bike plan would take.

"The scope of work is hammered out before the consultant is hired," Purvis said. "The public input really drives the process and comes up with the plans."

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