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Albany County Rail Trail enters third phase

Public hears about $4.1M plan for Albany-Bethlehem pathway portion

People look over an aerial image outlining where the third phase of the Albany County Rail Trail will be constructed before presentation on the project Thursday, Feb. 20.

People look over an aerial image outlining where the third phase of the Albany County Rail Trail will be constructed before presentation on the project Thursday, Feb. 20. Photo by John Purcell.

— An alternative plan from full build was presented, because completing the original plan would “far exceed” funding available, according to Snyder.

In 2009, design began on the 9.3-mile Rail Trail through the county, with funding available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding. The original project drafted totaled $9.5 million, but the federal funds expected to cover the trail’s development never surfaced.

The project was then broken into three phases, with the first phase from Voorheesville Avenue to the New Scotland Avenue bridge, the second phase from the bridge into Delmar, and the third phase now being tackled. The second phase actually opened before the first phase, and the third phase will likely be fully completed before planned improvements are done on the rest of the trail.

Snyder said the alternative presented would create a 10-foot wide multi-use trail, would make all five bridges in the third phase accessible to cross safely and link the communities together.

Since the plan presented was more than available funding, Snyder said public comments would help address what must be done and where money could be saved.

Drew Pollak-Bruce, of Delmar, asked if there are plans to connect the Rail Trail to a more bike-friendly city after the trail ends.

“Really, I want to be able to ride from my house to work in downtown Albany,” Pollak-Bruce said.

Snyder said over the last month there have been several new funding sources developing to start making connections from trails into a town or city, but any such project would be separate from the proposed Rail Trail plan. Federal funding for the project also limits what can be done.

“There is nothing precluding a bicycle user from going down the trail and continuing on. They are able to do that through Vehicle and Traffic Law,” Snyder said. “Yes, it would be a little nerve-racking because the shoulders are very narrow there.”

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