Design Work Begins for Philmont-to-Chatham Rail Trail Expansion
The 1800s stone arch bridge in Ghent over which the new section of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail will run. (photo credit: Bart Ziegler)
MILLERTON, N.Y.–Work has begun to create a shovel-ready construction plan for a new section of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail in Columbia County that will link the village of Philmont to the town of Ghent and Chatham village.
The construction-ready documents are being designed by MKM Landscape Architecture of New York under contract to the Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association, the nonprofit community group that helps oversee the expansion and maintenance of the trail.
“We are thrilled to be taking the next step in the expansion of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail,” said Phil Meeks, chair of the HVRTA board. “This new 8-mile section will dramatically increase the trail’s footprint and bring it to central and northern Columbia County for the first time.”
The new paved trail section will traverse scenic woods and farmland in Ghent and pass over a historic stone-arch railroad bridge constructed in the 1800s. It will terminate in the village of Chatham near the planned new Shaker Museum.
Funding for the $500,000 construction plan comes from a state grant and local funds raised by the rail trail association, in cooperation with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Construction of the new section, whose cost hasn’t been determined, will require additional government and local funding.
MKM Landscape Architecture has extensive experience in designing trails, including 2.5 miles of earlier extensions of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail.
The Harlem Valley Rail Trail currently consists of 26 paved miles that link the Metro-North Railroad station in Wassaic to Copake. The association’s ultimate goal is a 46-mile continuous trail from Wassaic to Chatham following the path of the onetime New York and Harlem Railroad.