Harlem Valley Rail Trail Extension Construction Underway
Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro announced construction work is now underway on the eagerly anticipated fourth and final phase of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail (HVRT). The project extends the HVRT with an 8-mile segment between Millerton in northeastern Dutchess County and Ancram in southeastern Columbia County. Preliminary construction, including tree clearing, began late last week. The full project is expected to be complete by October 2020.
The project begins at Main Street (Route 44) in the Village of Millerton and will follow the former Harlem Valley Rail Line right-of-way in the Town of Northeast to end at Under Mountain Road in the Town of Ancram. When complete, there will be 23 miles of continuous trail from the Wassaic Train Station in Amenia to the Copake Falls area of the Taconic State Park in Columbia County.
County Executive Molinaro said, “We are thrilled to have construction of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail extension underway as part of our ambitious park plans this year. The HVRT project has faced many challenges along the way, but we finally have a construction plan that is both fiscally and environmentally responsible thanks to the cooperation, dedication and determination of our design team and all our partners. The HVRT has been a destination trail for years and a wonderful way for residents and visitors explore the natural beauty of northeastern Dutchess County. This new 8-mile connection will enhance the trail’s appeal and encourage even greater use for years to come.”
Funding for the final phase of the project was approved in October 2018 by the Dutchess County Legislature. Total project costs are estimated at $14.7 million, with $9.365 million federally funded. Dutchess County will pay the local share of work within Dutchess County and Columbia County and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation have agreed to fund the local share of the Columbia County portion of the project.
Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Gregg Pulver said, “The Harlem Valley Rail Trail is a wonderful place to exercise, explore, and enjoy the outdoors. This extension into Columbia County is a great addition to our network of award-winning parks and is a significant improvement to the quality of life for County residents and visitors.”
The new trail section borders environmentally sensitive areas at various sections and requires the installation of approximately 4,100 feet of elevated boardwalks. Additionally, six structurally deficient bridges within the corridor will be rehabilitated. Trail crossings will be constructed at intersections with Main Street (Route 44), Beilke-State Line Road, Rudd Pond Road, White House Crossing Road and Under Mountain Road.
The project’s design team, comprised of engineering staff from Dutchess County’s Department of Public Works (DPW), and consulting firm Clough Harbour & Associates, has worked closely with multiple partners, including the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and Army Corps of Engineers, to overcome numerous economic and environmental challenges, including rising construction costs and permitting issues due to the native wetlands and endangered species in the area.
DPW Commissioner Robert Balkind said, “This is a major project, with significant design work that includes rehabilitating multiple bridges, as well as constructing boardwalks through wetland areas to protect wildlife habitats and preserve the area’s natural beauty. It is exciting to get this project underway and enhance this wonderful County asset for all to enjoy.”
The HVRT Phase IV connection project is one of several Dutchess County park initiatives recently highlighted in County Executive Molinaro’s 2019 State of the County Address. Other projects include the acquisition of more 230 acres in East Fishkill for the future Lake Walton Preserve; new additions to Quiet Cove Riverfront Park, including a new river deck and kayak launch; as well as a study to explore the feasibility of a pedestrian/bike trail and trolley operation on the idle Beacon Line in the City of Beacon into the Town of Fishkill.
For information on Dutchess County’s award-winning parks, including the Harlem Valley Rail Trail, visitdutchessny.gov/parks.