ALBANY — Mayor Kathy Sheehan recently joined state and local partners to unveil the $1.7 million South End Connector that links the Mohawk Hudson Hike-Bike Trail to the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail along the Hudson River.
“When we started this project, I asked that we explore all the potential of this important bike and pedestrian connector – and this project has done just that,” Sheehan said. “We’ve created the city’s first physically separated two-way cycle trail – a corridor that will make it safer and more environmentally friendly for residents and visitors alike to travel between Albany’s South End and Corning Preserve.”
The 1.5-mile South End Connector features the first physically separated two-way cycle track in the city. The trail is protected by a landscaped buffer from the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trailhead to the Interstate 787 Frontage Road.
At Church Street, the protected trail continues underneath Interstate 787 for a walk or ride all the way to the Mohawk Hudson Hike-Bike Trail connection. The South End Connector also provides traffic calming measures along South Pearl Street, slowing traffic and creating a direct route for the residents of the South End to access Corning Waterfront Park.
“The South End Connector bike trail will increase access to green space, reduce pollution and enhance the South End neighborhood,” said New York State Senator Neil Breslin.
The South End Connector is also a part of the Empire State Trail. When completed by the end of 2020, the Empire State Trail will be a continuous 750-mile route spanning from New York City to Canada and Buffalo to Albany, creating the longest multi-use state trail in the nation.
Sheehan also announced the kick-off of Phase Two of the project – which will engage the South End community and others in finding ways to make the space surrounding the South End Connector underneath Interstate 787 more attractive and engaging to the public.
Phase Two of the project seeks to activate the space underneath Interstate 787. The city’s Department of Planning & Development and consultants Creighton Manning and Landing Studio will seek public input for making this area more attractive and for amenities that would make their experience more enjoyable. Public outreach will begin this fall to finalize the design next winter. Construction of the project is anticipated for 2021.
“Thank you to each of the state and local partners, including area residents, who have come together to plan and deliver this important addition to our city,” Sheehan said. “I very much look forward to working with South End residents and others in the region on Phase Two.”
This project was made possible through funding from the Capital District Transportation Committee, New York State Department of State, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Assemblymember John McDonald, and New York State Assemblymember Patricia Fahy.
“Capital Region residents and visitors alike will now have the opportunity to utilize what is now a 32-mile paved and uninterrupted bike-hike path,” New York State Assemblymember Patricia Fahy said. “I am proud to have helped secure state funding for the South End Connector project, which will help to drive increased foot traffic and mobility in and around downtown Albany and our waterfront.”
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.
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