NEW SCOTLAND More progress will be made on the Albany County Rail Trail this year, officials announced during a public update meeting last week.
On Tuesday night, Jan. 12, engineers from Albany County met with residents at the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Voorheesville.
More than 100 people packed into the room to listen as the county outlined its timetable for the final phase of Rail Trail construction.
The Rail Trail, a 10-mile pedestrian path which starts in the city of Albany and ends in the village of Voorheesville, has aroused excitement across the county since its first sections opened in 2011, and Tuesday was no different. The project began after seven years of planning prior to acquisition of the trail’s land in 2010.
A warm winter has yielded additional construction time in Delmar, allowing the prospect of having the entire length of the Rail Trail to be completed soon. County officials vow to open the last section from Slingerlands to Voorheesville before the end of the year.
A $1 million grant from the Capitol was awarded to Albany County to pay towards the trail, of which the county is to match 20 percent to complete the project.
“The goal is to have the entire path open and paved by 2017,” said Bill Anslow, Albany County engineer.
Paving will start this spring from Veterans’ Park in Delmar to Cherry Avenue in Slingerlands, with final detail work needed on the stretch from the Albany city line to Delaware Avenue in Delmar. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place in the coming months.
County officials answered the question on everyone’s mind: how does it plan to deal with a failing bridge infrastructure, and squabbles over land relating to the old Slingerlands railway station.
Nearly the entire trail is currently open, with the exception of one small section in the middle of the trail, at upper Font Grove Road, behind New Village Deli in Slingerlands.
“We knew this problem was coming since we took ownership of the trail,” said Anslow. “We’re totally aware of the problem. We have some ideas and engineers working on it, but I’ll tell you the truth, it’s going to be difficult.”
Brian Dootz, who owns the property between the deli and the Slingerlands Bridge, has been known to park his truck along the trail. While the deli also needs this land to access roads and make deliveries, the county plans on paving the entire area and creating a parking lot for Rail Trail visitors
“We don’t want the kinds of parking problems Bethlehem has been dealing with,” Anslow admitted. “We’ve had a lot of issues because big trucks will pull in there.”
Dootz, however, is said to be willing to sell his property to the county, and the county in turn is amenable to this option. “If we can figure something out, that’s definitely something we’d want to do,” said Anslow, as these plans must be completed by the proposed 2017 paving date.
The majority of funds available to aid with the final section’s completion will be used to address significant drainage issues, at the New Scotland Avenue Bridge.
“The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy [MHLC] received [a] grant of $10,000 from Hudson Greenway, which we are matching,” said MHLC Executive Director Mark King to a round of applause. “The village has a grant as well, to add additional signage to direct people to the trail head in village of Voorheesville.”
The western portion of the Rail Trail ends in Voorheesville, at the site of an old rail station, Amenities at this location include restroom facilities. Signage on these major roadways will direct drivers to the trail’s head. Additional signage will also be installed at other two trail heads situated at old train stations in Delmar and Slingerlands.
Kiosks at all three trail heads will provide small pamphlets alongside a large map of the trail detailing major entryways and exits