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Grants boost bike paths in Capital Region

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Grants boost bike paths in Capital Region

More than $4 million in grant money is coming to the Capital Region for bicycle and pedestrian trail
Grants boost bike paths in Capital Region
This maps shows the proposed bike/pedestrian link connecting Central Park, Vale Park and Downtown Schenectady.
Photographer: Courtesy of Schenectady County

More than $4 million in grant money is coming to the Capital Region for bicycle and pedestrian trails, including major new projects in Schenectady and Saratoga Springs, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday.

The two projects were among $70 million awarded statewide for bike trail and pedestrian access improvement initiatives.

In Schenectady, $1.1 million was awarded for a planned bike loop through the city between Central Park and downtown Schenectady — the Schenectady Bike Link Project.

In Saratoga, meanwhile, the proposed Geyser Road-Spa State Park Bicycle-Pedestrian Trail was awarded $1.6 million in funding for final design and construction.

The Schenectady project, first proposed in 2001, will link the downtown-City Hall area with a loop that would go through Vale Cemetery to Central Park, then follow Rugby Road to Union College. Parts of it would be on-road and parts off-road. From downtown, riders could reach the Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway.

Parts of the new trail are already built, and the new grant should be enough to complete it.

“It’s another key component, and it improves the biking and walkability of the community,” said Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy. He expects construction in 2015.

The Geyser Road trail in Saratoga has also been on the drawing boards for years.

It would link the Geyser Crest residential neighborhoods and the Grande Industrial Park to Saratoga Spa State Park and the rest of the city. A 10-foot-wide paved path will run along Geyser Road, including on the bridge over the Saratoga rail yard.

“We’re just so excited about it. The staff in the planning office has spent months on this,” said Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen. “This is big in terms of trail connections, and it fits into our whole sustainability initiative.”

The trail will run about three miles, from the Milton town line to Route 50 near the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, providing an alternative to walking or biking the busy road.

“It’s awesome news. We’re really excited,” said city Supervisor Matthew Veitch, who lives in Geyser Crest and has been a longtime advocate of the trail. “This is the culmination of 10 years of hard work.”

The Capital District Transportation Authority, meanwhile, received $1.6 million to make a variety of bike-pedestrian improvements in Albany, Troy and Cohoes.

The money will pay for sidewalk work, crosswalk and signage improvements, curb extensions and other work that’s part of a plan for high-speed bus service between Cohoes, Troy and Albany, said CDTA spokeswoman Jaime Watson.

All the projects are being funded by the Federal Highway Administration. Cuomo said they will boost tourism and economic development opportunities by promoting bicycling and walking.

“These projects will help communities become more walkable and bicycle-friendly, as well as show off the natural beauty that exists in every corner of this state,” he said in a statement.

The federal money is being channeled through the state Department of Transportation.

The program provides up to 80 percent of the cost of each project, with the remaining share coming from the project sponsor.

Schenectady has funds to cover its share, McCarthy said. Yepsen said she’s working to come up with the $400,000 local share for the Saratoga project.

Elsewhere in the greater Capital Region, the city of Glens Falls was awarded $480,000 toward improvements in the area of Fire Road, Crandall Park and Kensington Road Elementary School.

In the Mohawk Valley, the state Canal Corp. was awarded $985,600 toward closing another gap in the Erie Canal Bikeway, between Fort Herkimer Church and Lock 18 in Herkimer County.

“These projects must be recognized as an essential element of community infrastructure and receive adequate resource allocations so that all New Yorkers can have access to safe, interconnected places to bike and walk,” said Josh Wilson, executive director of the New York Bicycle Coalition.

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