Extending the Hudson Valley Rail Trail
From New Paltz Road to South Street, Town of Lloyd, NY
The Ulster County Department of Planning and its engineering consultant, HVEA, are currently completing the engineering design and right-of-way incidental phases for the Hudson Valley Rail Trail West: Phase 4 (“the Project”), which is proposed for construction in 2017. A Public Hearing for the federally-funded Project was held by the Ulster County Legislature on June 21, 2016, and the Public Hearing documents are available at the Project website. The Ulster County Legislature will vote on the Determination & Findings for the Project on August 16, 2016.
In early 2014, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein proposed that the County design and construct an extension of the popular Hudson Valley Rail Trail (“HVRT”) in the Town of Lloyd westward towards New Paltz. The proposed extension would advance the County’s initiatives to develop an interconnected, world-class rail trail network running from the Walkway Over the Hudson (“Walkway”) to the Ashokan Reservoir and Catskill Park and would help link the HVRT to the nearly 22 mile Wallkill Valley Rail Trail in the future.
|Photo of Existing Segment of Hudson Valley Rail Trail in Town of Lloyd, NY|
The existing HVRT is a 12-feet wide, asphalt-paved “shared-use” path that runs 3.5 miles from the Walkway to Tony Williams Park in the Town of Lloyd and also connects to the 13 mile Dutchess County Rail Trail via the Walkway. This two-county, connected trail network was added in 2016 by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to its Rail Trail Hall of Fame. A Phase 3 extension of the HVRT by the Town of Lloyd, which is expected to be constructed in late 2016, will lengthen the HVRT to 4.2 miles and extend the western HVRT terminus westward to New Paltz Road. The County proposed to lengthen the HVRT to nearly 5.5 miles and extend it further westward from New Paltz Road to South Street under a Phase 4 project, all of which will be fully accessible/ ADA compliant.
In late 2014, the County applied for-- and was awarded-- approximately $1.6 million in federal transportation funding for the “Hudson Valley Rail Trail West: Phase 4” (PIN 8761.21) under the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant awards. These grants were announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo and are administered through the New York State Department of Transportation. The TAP grant covers 80 percent of the cost of the estimated $1.99 million project.
The County has identified a number of goals and objectives that would be served by constructing the Phase 4 extension of the HVRT. These include:
- Expanding non-motorized transportation alternatives for pedestrians and bicyclists
- Improving quality of life for local residents
- Increasing tourism and economic development in and around the Town of Lloyd
- Connecting the Walkway Over the Hudson and Poughkeepsie Train Station to additional areas of the Town of Lloyd (and eventually to New Paltz)
- Expanding recreational opportunities for residents and visitors, including for persons with disabilities and limited mobility
To the extent feasible, the Phase 4 Project is proposed to follow the alignment of the abandoned Penn Central Railroad corridor to avoid wetland impacts and protect the pedestrian/bicycle path from traffic on Route 299. Some right-of-way along Route 299 will also need to be utilized for the proposed path, including for a small trailhead parking area near South Street.
MAP 1: Western Segment of Proposed HVRT West Phase 4
MAP 2: Eastern Segment of Proposed HVRT West Phase 4
Project Initiation and Progress
Following the award of federal funding, the County created Capital Project 451 for design and engineering of the HVRT West: Phase 4 through Resolution No. 139 of 2015. Shortly thereafter, the County released Requests for Statements of Qualifications for a consulting engineering firm and selected Hudson Valley Engineering Associates (HVEA), to progress the project through preliminary and final engineering and right-of-way (“ROW”) incidentals tasks, which began in the summer of 2015. The County held a Public Information Meeting on September 30, 2015 to discuss the preliminary designs and get community feedback on the proposed trail plans. During the fall of 2015, HVEA and the County completed the draft design report, and the County Legislature adopted and issued a negative declaration under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) pursuant to Resolution No. 45 of 2016.
The County Legislature amended the HVRT Capital Project in April 2016 to include the ROW Acquisition phase pursuant to Resolution No. 238 of 2016. The County submitted a final design to the New York State Department of Transportation and is awaiting a final approval from a federal agency. The County Legislature also set and held a Public Hearing on ROW Acquisition. The transcript and exhibits of the Public Hearing on June 21, 2016 are available at the Project webpage.
Photo of Abandoned Penn Central Railroad Proposed for Phase 4 Alignment
The County anticipates the completion of design and ROW acquisition by the end of 2016 or early 2017. The Project will be put out to bid for construction in early 2017 with an anticipated completion by the end of 2017. The County is also in active discussions with the New York State Department of Transportation (“NYSDOT”) about future efforts by NYSDOT to design and construct a future phase to complete the trail link to New Paltz.
For more information on the Project, please contact Chris White at cwhi[at]co.ulster.ny[dot]us or (845) 340-3338.