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Another helping hand for Rail Trail

Grant could portend opening of another segment in New Scotland, Voorheesville

— Communities throughout Albany have been working with the county and the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy to reach an agreement to open additional segments of the trail. In 2010, Albany County purchased 9.1 miles of rail bed from the Canadian Pacific Railway to create the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail. A nearly 2-mile section was opened in Delmar and Slingerlands last June, again with the involvement of the MHLC.

MHLC Executive Director Jill Knapp called the grant a godsend.

“It will probably help to get most of the work done we need on the bridges (along the trail),” she said.

Knapp said county representatives continue to be concerned about the liability issues involved with pedestrians walking over the two bridges along the New Scotland section of the trail. The Conservancy is now partnering with the towns of New Scotland and Bethlehem and the Village of Voorheesville to work out the liability issues with the county.

Mary Rozak, spokeswoman for County Executive Dan McCoy, said county representatives “are working diligently and quickly as possibly to make sure that we can safely pursue the opening of the rail trail.”

“We have been working with the county attorney, Department of Public Works and members of the community to make sure there is a viable plan in place,” she said. “We are in the process of a plan review and are reviewing all aspects legally in concern with liability, while making sure we are being fiscally responsible to the municipalities we represent.”

The high cost of repairing or replacing eight bridges along the trail has also been cited by county officials as a major hurdle.

The grant is expected to cover nearly all costs for safety improvements, while volunteers will donate their time to help with beautification efforts.

Scott Lewendon, MHLC trail coordinator, said the next segment of the trail will first be prepared for pedestrian use only. As more funds become available, bicyclists will eventually be allowed as well.

“The Foundation is excited to contribute to the project to provide a trail that will enhance the quality of life for local residents,” said Rucks.

Talks are still in progress with the county to obtain a work permit, but the Conservancy members are hoping to begin improvements on the newest section of the trail in coming weeks.

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