Dutchess County to Explore Revitalizing
Section of Metro-North’s Beacon Line
Shuttle and Pedestrian/Bike Trail Possible Within Portion of Idle Rail Line
Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro and City of Beacon Mayor Randy Casale have announced that this year the County will explore the possibility of operating a shuttle and adding a trail for pedestrians and bicycles within a portion of the Beacon Line right-of-way through an agreement with MTA Metro-North Railroad. This study is yet another effort to create new connections in Dutchess County.
County Executive Molinaro said, “Creating connections and enhancing walkability continues to be a key priority for Dutchess County Government in 2019 as we continue our Complete Streets initiative with all of our road projects; build on the popularity of the two rail trails with the construction of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail extension connection into Columbia County and explore new connections for the Dutchess Rail Trail.” The County’s Complete Streets initiative focuses on designing street and roads for people of all ages and abilities to walk, ride or drive.
“We know the power of trails and greenways to enhance our community, connect neighborhoods, provide recreational opportunity and improve quality of life,” continued Molinaro. “We are excited to explore possibilities for the idle Beacon Line to enhance our trail system with a green and scenic alternative to get from one end of Beacon to the other and enable people to enjoy all Beacon has to offer.”
The Beacon Line, also known as the Maybrook Branch, runs east through Fishkill, Hopewell Junction, and Stormville, and connects with the Harlem Line north of Southeast. Through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement, Metro-North has granted Dutchess County exclusive rights to study the feasibility of operating a trolley on a portion of the Beacon Line that runs from Beacon’s waterfront to the east end of the city’s Main Street, as well as adding a bike and pedestrian trail that runs from Beacon’s waterfront to the east end of the city’s Main Street. The specific portion covered under the MOU begins south of Metro-North’s Beacon station and continues for about 12 miles up to Route 9 in the Town of Fishkill. Although owned by Metro-North Railroad, the line is not currently used for passenger train service and any proposed use of this portion of rail would not connect to the Hudson Line.
Mayor Randy Casale has pushed for this study, noting, “When I ran for office in 2011 one of my goals was to connect the Beacon train station to both our thriving business district and further to Fishkill. This partnership, between the City of Beacon, Dutchess County and the MTA, takes us one step closer to making that dream a reality. Thank you to County Executive Marcus Molinaro, and the MTA for the opportunity to study this line. I believe it will be a great economic benefit to both the City of Beacon and Dutchess County. We are continuing to make the City of Beacon a sustainable, walkable and bike-friendly place to live and work. I look forward to working with Dutchess County to continue moving this project forward.”
Both the waterfront and Main Street, with its boutiques, farm to table restaurants, and galleries featuring the creative work of Hudson Valley artists, are key destinations for residents and visitors alike, and developing the rail spur holds the promise of improving regional connectivity, boosting tourism and enhancing the city’s economic development.
County Executive Molinaro highlighted Dutchess County’s trails and parks, including the study of the Beacon Line, during his 2019 State of the County address earlier this week. The full State of the County address is available atdutchessNY.gov.