Schenectady County

Schumer: New railroad bridge should include walkway

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer calls for a bicycle-pedestrian walkway in plans for the new Livingston

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer on Monday called for a bicycle-pedestrian walkway to be included in plans for a new Livingston Avenue railroad bridge.

Such a walkway would provide safe pedestrian access across the Hudson River between Albany and Rensselaer, Schumer said.

A $4 million state study involving CSX railroad, the state Department of Transportation and Amtrak is currently evaluating alternatives for replacing the bridge, parts of which date from 1866.

The historic bridge primarily serves Amtrak trains coming into and out of the Rensselaer train station. Schumer and state officials have said a new bridge is essential to developing the state’s high-speed passenger rail service.

The current bridge once had a pedestrian path, but the bridge’s deterioration led to its closing more than a decade ago.

Schumer noted that the Walkway Across the Hudson at Poughkeepsie draws thousands of visitors and has been an economic boon for that area. The city of Rensselaer is planning a waterfront revitalization project that should make its riverfront more appealing, while the Corning Preserve is at the bridge’s western end.

“When the new bridge is built, we have a fresh chance to reconnect these two downtowns and funnel more visitors to key areas on both sides of the river,” Schumer said. “Failing to include a pedestrian component in this bridge would be shortsighted, and we can’t make that mistake.”

Local leaders and advocacy groups generally support the idea. Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings and Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino were among those who attended Schumer’s news conference at the Corning Preserve.

The bridge is owned by CSX, though public funds will pay for its replacement.

“We appreciate the senator’s interest and will review [his] letter and respond in the near future,” said CSX spokesman Robert Sullivan.

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