SLINGERLANDS – The New York state Department of Transportation awarded $1.5 million to the Town of Bethlehem to go towards designing and constructing a multi-use path between the rail trail and New Scotland Road.
The Town announced the award last week, sharing that in intends to use the grant to connect the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail with the commercial district that runs along New Scotland Road in Slingerlands.
The funds were made available through the transportation department’s Transportation Alternatives Grant Program. According to a statement released by the Town, Bethlehem will provide a local match of $392.385 towards the project.
“This project is an important step toward realizing the Town’s long-term vision of a walkable, bikeable New Scotland Road hamlet, connecting the Delmar and Slingerlands hamlets, and aligns with the principles from the Town’s new Comprehensive Plan” said Robert Leslie, town director of planning. “The new path will improve quality of life for current and future residents as we see further growth, and will give people a new way to visit and support businesses in the area.”
The 10-foot wide multi-use path will begin on Kenwood Avenue at the traffic signal, connect with the rail trail, and then continue approximately 0.9 miles north along the Cherry Avenue Extension to New Scotland Road. The Town envisions the new path providing a safe pedestrian and bicycling link between the many neighborhoods along the rail trail and the growing commercial district in Slingerlands.
Currently, there are no pedestrian accommodations along Cherry Avenue Extension. In recent years, local residents contested the speed limit on the four-lane highway, leading to a reduction from 55 to 45 mph in 2019. Bicyclists are often observed riding along the shoulder.
The Town applied for the grant in the fall of 2021, with support from the Town’s volunteer Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee and neighborhood residents who have been advocating in recent years to fill in this missing bicycle and pedestrian link to allow easier access between mixed-use commercial/residential areas, existing residential neighborhoods, schools, and recreation facilities.
The area has seen considerable commercial and residential development for more than a decade, with the addition of Price Chopper Plaza and a mixed-use development on New Scotland Road, new residential communities, and Vista Technology Campus.
“More than 250,000 people enjoy the rail trail through Bethlehem,” Town Supervisor David VanLuven shared in a statement. “This multi-use path will make it easier and safer for people to walk and ride to the many restaurants and businesses along New Scotland Road in Slingerlands.”