Harlem Valley Rail Trail Phase IV Construction Celebrated
with Ground Breaking Ceremony in Millerton
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy marks Saturday, April 13th as “Opening Day for Trails” to kick-off the spring trail season across the nation. Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro, joined by local officials and rail trail enthusiasts, got the celebration started a day early with a ceremonial ground-breaking event for the eagerly anticipated fourth and final phase of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail (HVRT).
County Executive Molinaro said, “The Harlem Valley Rail Trail project has remained a focus of Dutchess County Government, despite the many environmental and fiscal challenges faced along the way. We are excited for construction to get underway in earnest and to add to our award-winning parks system. Once complete, it will be even easier for residents and visitors alike to explore all that Dutchess has to offer. We are grateful to our many partners for their continued support and dedication to this project. This landmark project is worthy of community support and will serve as an example of the good that linear parks can do for neighborhoods, towns and villages. We are proud to bring this vibrant resource to the residents of Dutchess County.”
The project extends the HVRT with an 8-mile segment between Millerton in northeastern Dutchess County and Ancram in southeastern Columbia County. Phase IV 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 North East to end at Under Mountain Road in the Town of Ancram.
Gregg Pulver, Chair of the Dutchess County Legislature, said, “Northeastern Dutchess County has thrived because of the wonderful connections the HVRT provides. The Legislature has consistently supported this project in its many phases because we understand the social value and economic vitality it draws to this region. We are grateful to the surrounding municipalities and especially the Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association for their tireless support of this project.”
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. The full project is expected to be complete by October 2020.
Lisa DeLeeuw, Executive Director of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association, said, “The Harlem Valley Rail Trail is a wonderful resource for our region. Every year, residents and visitors from all over who want to get outdoors to enjoy nature are drawn to its accessibility and proximity to the myriad restaurants and small businesses in the towns and villages along the trail. The Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association is grateful for the leadership of Dutchess County Government and the support of the Legislature to bring this exciting final phase to fruition and expand the trail’s positive impact.”
The Harlem Valley Rail Trail was Dutchess County’s first rail trail and has been a popular destination since the first segment was built in 1996. The Phase IV project has been under development for many years, however the new trail section borders environmentally sensitive areas at various sections and has posed extensive environmental challenges, including native wetlands and endangered species in the area. The project’s design team, comprised of engineering staff from Dutchess County’s Department of Public Works (DPW), and consulting firm CHA, 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.
The Phase IV project will include 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.
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.
For more information on all of Dutchess County’s parks, visit dutchessny.gov.