The final section of the Zim Smith recreation trail should be completed by early summer, county officials said.
Once that work just south of Ballston Spa is done, there will be a nearly nine-mile off-road trail from Halfmoon to the village, following an old railroad right of way — what advocates hope will be the backbone of a countywide trail system.
Already-completed trail sections from Halfmoon to Malta have proven popular, and county officials look forward to wrapping up a major project that has taken nearly a decade to get built.
“We hope to be done in June or early July,” said county Planning Director Jason Kemper, who has overseen the project’s development.
This month, the Board of Supervisors is expected to retain the Greenman-Peterson engineering firm of Albany to do construction inspections, and authorize a final agreement between the county and the Canadian Pacific Railroad for work near its tracks.
The CP Rail agreement — which has taken years to negotiate — will allow trail construction between Zepko Lane and Oak Street, over property owned by the railroad next to its Schenectady-Saratoga tracks.
The work will be done under a $659,107 contract with HMA Construction of Schaghticoke, for the construction between Outlet Road and Oak Street.
Kemper said sub-base work was done last fall between Underpass Road and Zepko Lane, and a deck has been installed on the new pedestrian bridge over the Mourning Kill. That bridge was built last year as part of the county water line project. The water line is also in the Zim Smith right of way.
The work to be done this spring is on the railroad property, and paving between Underpass Road and Zepko Lane, Kemper said.
Federal economic stimulus money will pay $399,000 of the construction costs, but the county will be paying — to the tune of $260,370 — for the construction on the railroad property. The federal money cannot be used to make improvements to private railroad property.
There will be a security fence as required by CP Rail, and Greenman-Peterson will provide a full-time inspector while work is being done on railroad property, Kemper said.
Building the final two-mile section will complete the Zim Smith as it was envisioned 20 years ago, a paved or stone-dust path for hikers and bikers from Coons Crossing to Ballston Spa. The trail is open to snowmobiles in winter, but otherwise motorized vehicles are banned.
Eventually, many advocates hope the trail can continue north to Saratoga Springs, and be networked to local community trails along its route.
A separate agreement signed last fall could allow the trail to be extended two more miles southeast, from Coons Crossing into Mechanicville, along the edge of the redeveloping Mechanicville railyard.
The trail is named in memory of the late trail advocate Zimri Smith of Saratoga Springs.