Category Archives: Trail Network

Champlain Canal Trail and the Empire State Trail Going North from Waterford

Champlain Canal Trailand the Empire State Trail Going North from Waterford

MAP Champlain Canal Trail Upper Newtown Rd. 7-15-20

One of the nicest rides in the area – from Corning Riverfront Park to Upper Newtown Rd. – just got better. Work is in progress on the trail and towpath from Upper Newtown Rd. to Mechanicville. Formerly, people on bicycles could follow the original Champlain Canal Trail from Broad St. in Waterford, past the Weighlock, and on to “Landfill Mountain” by Momentive Performance Materials. Then, following a narrow paved road onto Bells Ln. (that changes into School House Ln.), you come to the Half Moon Trail skirting the old Champlain Canal on your left. This undeveloped area is about as close as you get to ride along the original canal through its surroundings. You can almost hear the clop-clop-clop of the mules’ hoofs. At 5.3 miles from Waterford, you arrive at a trailhead with parking for 4-5 cars at Upper Newtown Rd. Just across the road is evidence of construction of the new trail – formerly just grass, weeds, and brush.

Champlain Canal Trail Upper Newtown Rd. 7-15-20

This will be part of the Empire State Trail north connecting New York City to Canada. Go here for more detail on the currently rideable portions of the Champlain Canal Trail at Waterford.

 

View From “Before” July 2016

Trailhead Looking South Toward Waterford July 2016
Waterford Lock No 5
Waterford Weigh Lock from the Tow Path/Trail
Waterford Weigh Lock Looking North

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South End Connector – Almost Done

Mayor Sheehan and the City of Albany promised. Mayor Sheehan and the City of Albany delivered – the South End Connector

NOTE: The Connector officially opened on 7/7/20. Please see City of Albany 7/7/20 News  Release at the end or this post.

After many years of work, the South End Connector is “99 and 44/100 percent” done. Contractors have completed all the heavy construction work. There remain many finish-up projects, but the route is open and usable at this time.

COVID-19 Alert – If you are planning to visit the South End Connector or the connecting trails, please observe appropriate precautions for your safety and that of others.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This article presents photos of the completed project, suggests enhancements, calls for some corrective action, and describes what Albany Bicycle Coalition has done and is doing.

Photo 1 – Westbound entrance to the South End Connector under I-787 at Broadway and Quay St.

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Photo 2 – View of Connector looking South from under 787 at Broadway.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 3 – Closer view of drainage ditch installation with the multiuse pathway and Church St. in the background.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 4 – Church St. now one-way going South with the Connector coming out from under 787. This is the one “pinch point” that required adjusting a lightly used motor vehicle in order for the Connector to avoid the concrete support for 787.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 5 – Connector straight ahead looking south.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 6 – Church St. swinging off west into Bassett St.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 7 – Straight path south under 787 with intersection with Vine St./Church St. and with cycle track and rail yards coming up in the background.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOVERVIEW – In 2013, theAlbany Bicycle Coalition (ABC)joined with the Revitalize Our Waterfront (ROW) group to plan, promote, and design a connection between the soon-to-be-completed Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail and the long-established Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. We recognized that the 1.5-mile gap with heavy urban traffic on S. Pearl St. would be a barrier to experienced riders but even more so for recreational or novice cyclists. ABC and ROW conducted rides of the proposed trail, attended innumerable meetings, posted project updates, conferred with neighbors, gathered support from residents and others, and submitted proposals for route design.

Here’s a March 2015 chilly ride to explore the proposed South End Connector – OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We also recognized that a neighborhood bicycle route would support those who rely on their bicycles for mobility – jobs, school, heath care, family. It would help make the “south end” a livable community. From a recreational standpoint, connecting the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail and the neighborhood to the waterfront and Corning Riverfront Park would ameliorate the downside of I-787 and provide pleasure to many.

Photo 8 – Looking North at the intersection of the Connecter with Vine St./Church St. showing construction in process. At this point, people on bicycles can head right or east on Church St. toward the Hudson River to access Broadway, the Port of Albany, and the City Island Park. City Island Park can serve as a starting point for riding the South End Connector Bikeway.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 9 – Another view of the Frontage Rd. with the Connector crossing Church St. and going to the left and then right-north under 787.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 10 – Beautiful median with newly planted trees and shrubbery on the left separating the Connector from the rail yards.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 11Tank Bombs are still there although currently few in number. They will be back as soon as Americans resume normal gasoline consumption, OPEC opens the plug, and Bakken Crude again becomes price competitive.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 12 – Intersection of the Connector track with S. Pearl St. on the right. Heavy trucks much in evidence speeding along S. Pearl St.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 13 – Two-way cycle track heading south toward the trailhead for the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail.

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ENHANCEMENTS – Here are enhancements and safety issues that ABC believes the South End Connector needs. While many of these may already be on the city’s agenda, our goal is to help ensure that nothing is left out. ABC members have observed the Connector over its entire length and studied it for several years. While the newly completed pavement is a giant step forward, several locations need additional work for safety and wayfinding.

 Here are specific areas needing attention:

  • Quay St./Broadway Intersection at USS Slater/Dutch Apple – Large, busy, hazardous intersection. Bicyclists coming south on the waterfront bike lanes cannot see the South End Connector since it is diagonally across the intersection under I-787. New, more prominent wayfinding signs, a map, and green pavement markings, would bring riders from the waterfront to Connector without riding in the street.
  • Obsolete “Bike Route” Sign – Church St. at Rensselaer St. The sign points west towards Pearl St., and thus directs riders away from Connector. Now that Connector is functional, the old route sign will confuse people on bicycles. They should be blocked off and then replaced.
  • Security Lighting Under I-787 – The long S-curve north of the Church St. intersection is very isolated and cannot be seen from street. Ideally, there would also be security cameras.
  • North End of I-787 Service Road at Church St. – Crosswalk/bikeway needs to be marked on the pavement (after the street completed).
  • Raised Barrier – At 700 S. Pearl St., a painted oval was recently added. However, cars still pull into this space to discharge passengers. The virtual barrier is ineffective. If the city cannot install a barrier in a timely manner, it should place at least a “No Parking” or “No Standing” sign.
  • S. Pearl St. Parking Lot – Entrance from the cycle track needs stop signs for southbound riders entering the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail parking lot as cars may be exiting from or entering into it. Need a map of the Connector adjacent to path.

Photo 14 – What a relief to be separated from speeding, gigantic, roaring trucks tailgating people on bicycles.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 15 – Cycle track entrance from the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail trailhead/parking lot. Note nice concrete barriers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 16/17 – What’s that name again? (Officially it’s “South End Connector“)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 18 – Riders coming off the rail trailhead protected by “Jersey Barriers.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 19 – Cycle track in front of the Center for Disability Services with curbing and plastic bollards separating it from the travel lane.

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Photo 19A – Lane markings on S. Pearl St.

No. 19 APhoto 20 – Exiting S. Pearl St. portion of cycle track and entering the frontage road cycle track on the right. Note CDTA bus stop. Yield to those pedestrians!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 21 – Swinging onto the cycle track. S. Pearl St. going under 787 to Rt. 9W and the Thruway interchange. Those people on bicycles wishing to go directly downtown can continue on S. Pearl St. and not enjoy banging over the cursed Belgian Blocks at the intersections. The free, interactive BikeAlbanyMap is a helpful tool for navigating from the Connector.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 22 – Stanchion for trail lighting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 23 Good drainage!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 24 – Looking south for another view of workers at the Church St. cycle track traffic island. Connector exit/entrance on the lower left. Obey that STOP sign! At this point, people on bicycles can stay on road to the right and pass under 787 to access Green St. and the neighborhood.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 24A – Beginning of S curve leading to under-787 segment at Vine St./Church St.

No. 24 APhoto 25 – Planting grass.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 26 – Some work still to be completed. Note construction equipment and staged materials.

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Photo 26A – The long S-curve north of the Church St. intersection is isolated and cannot be seen from street.

No. 26 APhoto 27 – Looking north on Church St. that is now one way southbound. The cycle track swings out into the former travel lane. This is the one “pinch point” in the entire project. Again, people on bicycles can exit the Connector and access the neighborhood via Bassett St. See the BikeAlbanyMap.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 28 – Virtual street lighting?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 29 – Approaching the north terminus of the Connector, the path turns hard right to the east and becomes 12+ feet wide. It goes under 787 toward the Dutch Apple/Slater mooring. Broadway traffic zooming in from the left. At this spot, a SUV struck and killed 60-year-old cyclist Jose Perez on 8/3/06.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto 30-33 – Looking east toward the River with Broadway swooping off to the right/south. When people in cars turn right onto Broadway they will be coming up on the bicycle rider’s blind side. The only traffic control is a (meaningless) yield sign – where it is clear to a driver that there to no motor vehicle traffic to which to yield. More demonstrative traffic control needed here. (No, that’s not a crossing guard standing under the green interstate-style sign in the first photo.)

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Many people on bicycles will be using the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail, South End Connector Bikeway, and Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail because THEY ARE NOT PREPARED OR WILLING TO COPE WITH motor vehicle traffic. Between Voorheesville and the 4th and Broadway trailhead in Watervliet, cyclists do not have contend with on-road motor vehicle traffic except at this Broadway/Quay St. point. That is, 32 miles round trip without motor vehicle interaction (other than crossings).

Photos 34 – The South End Connector Bikeway and Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail are feeders to the Empire State and Erie Canalway trails as they merge into the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail.

Just think – Voorheesville to Buffalo!

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For earlier, in-process reports and photos on the South End Connector Bikeway go here.

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Here is the City of Albany news release on the 7/7/20 “grand opening” ribbon cutting:

 CITY OF ALBANY – OFFICE OF THE MAYOR – 24 EAGLE STREET – ALBANY, NEW YORK 12207

* * NEWS RELEASE * *

Date: July 7, 2020, Contact: David Galin, dgalin@albanyny.gov

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Partners Announce Opening of South End Bike/Pedestrian Connector

ALBANY, NY – Mayor Kathy Sheehan joined state and local partners to unveil the highly anticipated South End Connector, a $1.7 million project that links the Mohawk Hudson Hike-Bike Trail to the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail along the Hudson River. The trail creates the City’s first physically separated two-way cycle path – a safe, attractive, and environmentally friendly corridor for pedestrians and cyclists to travel between these two bike and pedestrian trails.

Mayor Sheehan also announced the kick-off of Phase Two of the project – which will engage the South End community and others in finding ways to make the space surrounding the South End Connector underneath Interstate 787 more attractive and engaging to the public.

About the South End Connector – The 1.5-mile South End Connector features the first physically separated two-way cycle track in the City. The trail is protected by a landscaped buffer from the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trailhead to the Interstate 787 Frontage Road. At Church Street, the protected trail continues underneath Interstate 787 for a walk or ride all the way to the Mohawk Hudson Hike-Bike Trail connection. The South End Connector also provides traffic calming measures along South Pearl Street, slowing traffic and creating a direct route for the residents of the South End to access Corning Waterfront Park.

 The South End Connector is also a part of the Empire State Trail. When completed by the end of 2020, the Empire State Trail will be a continuous 750-mile route spanning the state from New York City to Canada and Buffalo to Albany, creating the longest multi-use state trail in the nation.

 South End Connector Phase Two Launched – Phase Two of the project seeks to activate the space underneath Interstate 787. The City’s Department of Planning & Development and consultants Creighton Manning and Landing Studio will be conducting outreach to the public in the fall of 2020, finalizing a design over the winter, and planning construction in 2021. The City hopes residents and visitors will use their imaginations to propose ideas for making this area more attractive and for amenities that would make their experience more enjoyable.

 Partnerships and Funding –The City of Albany would like to thank the many project partners who helped bring this trail from Feasibility Study through Construction. The South End Connector is a model example of how Governor Cuomo’s Consolidated Funding Application can be leveraged to create State and Local partnerships that result in high quality infrastructure that increases our residents’ quality of life. This project was made possible through funding from the Capital District Transportation Committee, New York State Department of State, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Assemblymember John McDonald, and New York State Assemblymember Patricia Fahy.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, “When we started this project, I asked that we explore all the potential of this important bike and pedestrian connector – and this project has done just that. We’ve created the City’s first physically separated two-way cycle trail – a corridor that will make it safer and more environmentally friendly for residents and visitors alike to travel between Albany’s South End and Corning Preserve. Thank you to each of the state and local partners, including area residents, who have come together to plan and deliver this important addition to our City. I very much look forward to working with South End residents and others in the region on Phase II.”

New York State Senator Neil Breslin said, “The South End Connector bike trail will increase access to green space, reduce pollution and enhance the South End neighborhood. I applaud the City of Albany, Assemblymembers Pat Fahy and John McDonald and their many partners for an initiative that promotes outdoor activities and connects our communities.”

New York State Assemblymember John McDonald said, “The completion of Phase One of the South End Connector provides a guide toward creating a more accessible city that can be enjoyed by residents in this region and throughout the State. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this two-way cycle track to explore our communities.  I am happy to have been able to dedicate funding to this project and I look forward to the competition of Phase Two in the near future!”

New York State Assemblymember Patricia Fahy said, “Capital Region residents and visitors alike will now have the opportunity to utilize what is now a 32-mile paved and uninterrupted bike-hike path. I am proud to have helped secure state funding for the South End Connector project, which will help to drive increased foot traffic and mobility in and around downtown Albany and our waterfront. Multi-use trails drive consumers to our locally owned small businesses, produce multiplier effects for the communities they run through, and ultimately help encourage alternative modes of transportation – helping to reduce our collective carbon footprint. Moreover, I am pleased this long-identified gap in our regional trail system has finally been closed – priming it for the completion of the Empire State Trail slated for this year.”

Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “DEC’s Climate Smart Communities Grant Program is making significant investments statewide to help local governments join New York’s nation-leading efforts to fight climate change and build healthy, resilient, and equitable communities. DEC is proud to be a contributing partner in the City of Albany’s new connector trail, a project that helps advance multiple goals by reducing greenhouse gas and other harmful emissions and increasing public access to green space for the South End community.”

New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, “The Department of State is proud to support the completion of the South End Connector Trail in the City of Albany through the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. In the current pandemic, we’ve seen the critical role parks, trails, and open spaces play in overcoming social isolation and bringing people together outdoors at a safe distance. The South End Connector Trail is an integral link to the Empire State Trail, which is connecting New Yorkers and enhancing outdoor recreation and community vitality across the state.”

Capital District Transportation Committee Executive Director Michael Franchini said, “It is extremely rare to see a transportation planning study implemented so quickly. This CDTC study, which was sponsored by the City of Albany, was completed in December 2017.  In that short 2 ½ year period funding was obtained, and design and construction was completed. It is a real tribute to all the stakeholders, including the City, New York State, and the neighborhood; and to their incredible cooperation.”

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Downtown Albany and Patroon Creek

This is an effort to trace Patroon Creek from the Tivoli St. area to its mouth at the Hudson River. It is part of the Albany Bicycle Coalition’s promotion of the Patroon Greenway development. Patroon Creek was also known as Bloomaert’s Kill, Fifth Kill, Vyfde Kill (Dutch for “fifth”), and Flodderkill

Other Patroon Greenway Project posts are Patroon Creek Greenway Trail Ride 11/19 and Patroon Greenway Project – Yardboro Ave. to Everett Rd.

Start in the “warehouse/lumber district” of the City of Albany. The tree line parallel to Tivoli St. near American Boiler, Tank, and Welding – this is a beautiful section of the creek – see map https://www.google.com/maps/place/Pleasant+St,+Albany,+NY+12207/@42.6641789,-73.7463031,242m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x89de097f81b7ea1d:0x506e790e6c94fe64!8m2!3d42.662751!4d-73.744764 See also photos.

Behind 44 Tivoli St. is a footbridge (accessible from a parking lot on Pleasant St.). This affords an almost idyllic view up and down stream. At American Boiler, Tank and Welding, again accessing from Pleasant St., a vehicular bridge again affords views of the creek. Much of this area is privately owned so permission might well be sought before exploring.

PHOTO 1 – The footbridge behind 44 Tivoli St. accessible from a parking lot on Pleasant St. with the Hudson River to the right.

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PHOTO 2 – The footbridge behind 44 Tivoli St. looking east toward the Hudson River.

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PHOTO 3 – From the footbridge behind 44 Tivoli St. looking west (upstream).

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PHOTO 4 – From the footbridge behind 44 Tivoli St. looking east (downstream).

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The next identifiable feature in the path to the river are two Erie Canal-era culverts that allowed the creek to flow under the canal as they now do under Erie Blvd. The culverts are behind locked “chain link” fences and are covered with perforated steel plates – thus, they are not visible. They are immediately adjacent to National Grid area and Huck Finn’s Warehouse, 25 Erie Blvd.

Culvert #1 – west side of Erie Blvd. – see map  https://www.google.com/maps/@42.6614229,-73.7411599,3a,75y,291.62h,102.28t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sqbqtplEI2q36VpAeuBE2vQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Culvert #2– east side of Erie Blvd. – see map  https://www.google.com/maps/@42.6613315,-73.7412178,3a,75y,137.06h,76.54t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sUBvjA2WBOtlukpC5ggRY-g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Photo 5A – Culvert #1 – west side of Erie Blvd.

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Photo 5B – Culvert #1 – west side of Erie Blvd.

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Photo 6A – Culvert #2 – east side of Erie Blvd.

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Photo 6B – Culvert #2 – east side of Erie Blvd.

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On Google maps, following easterly along Manor St. from the Tivoli St.-Pleasant St. tree line shading Patroon Creek and then crossing Erie Blvd. (once the path of both the original [“Clinton’s Ditch”] and the enlarged Erie Canal) at the site of the above culverts, brings one to the mouth of the creek where it empties into the Hudson River. – see map  https://www.google.com/maps/dir/42.659469,-73.7382589//@42.6594736,-73.7385021,261m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!4m1!3e1 at about 2,800 ft. from the above footbridge over Patroon Creek.

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Patroon Creek Greenway Trail Ride 11/19

~ DRAFT ~

See also – “Patroon Greenway Project – Yardboro Ave. to Everett Rd.”

Overview – The Patroon Greenway Project describes a transportation/recreation multiuse path connecting the Six-Mile Trail on Fuller Rd. with the Albany Riverfront Park. The trail generally follows Patroon Creek, Tivoli Hollow, Route I-90, and the AMTRAK/CONRAIL railway tracks.

The Patroon Greenway connects several other tails as outlined in the Capital District Transportation Committee’s “Capital District Trails Plan – 2019

There are three Patroon Greenway Project studies conducted in 2004 and are as follows:

The Exploratory Ride – On Sunday November 3, 2019, Rob Carle led a team of Mark Maniak, John Gillivan, Ed Brennan, and Shelly Nevard on a trial run of the Patroon Greenway Trail.

Fuller-To-Central-Section[1]We started across at Six Mile Waterworks Park. We crossed used the crosswalk north of the circle to get access to the Ultrapet parking lot and the beginning of the trail. At the time of the Patroon Creek Studies (2004 – note at end of this report), there was a traffic light at this location. This is now less navigable for bikes and pedestrians.

The Study route also did not employ the parking lot to get to the trail. Rather it would hug the I-90 ramp on DOT property until meeting the trail east of the Ultrapet parking lot. The picture below showing an electrical substation and water tower base was by the start of where we began the trail.

While it was OK for the first couple of hundred yards, this first section of trail was in turn muddy, sandy and covered with a heavy layer of leaves.   It is notable that Mark somehow managed it with thin tires. I imagine most of the thin tire crowd would have turned back. As we approached Yardboro Ave. we came upon an improved section with recently laid compacted gravel. This was apparently done to provide access from Yardboro Ave. to City or County Water Department facilities near I-90.

We took a left on Kneeland Street proceeded along Yardboro Ave. to Central Ave. Here again we diverged from the proposed route which would have been off road closer to I-90. As this is a small, low traffic neighborhood, I see little benefit to the cost of making this section off road. Neighbors might see things differently. The lack of space between neighborhood streets and the I-90 ramps to Harriman State Offices and Rt 85 probably also dictate this be an on road section.

I note here the Study author indicated the ramp to Harriman offered the potential to link the Greenway with the State Offices and SUNY. He envisioned using this I-90 overpass and Washington Ave underpass to access the state campus loop. I believe this concept was recently resurrected in Washington Ave study. However, I see issues with the merger of this ramp with the eastbound exit ramp from I-90. The grade crossing where the ramps merge is also noted in the Study.

The Study calls for a median refuge on Central Ave at the Yardboro Ave. crossing with flashing safety beacons. Rob recommended another crossing to give bicyclists and pedestrian’s access to Railroad Ave. to provide additional traffic calming for this section of Central Ave.

Once across Central, we had to lift our bikes over a locked gate to continue along the trail. The Study notes this is National Grid property with County Water and Sewer Rights of Way. The Patroon Creek is visible along much of this trail section which has potential for being somewhat scenic. The trail itself was rough and had some massive water filled ruts and potholes. We followed the trail under Everett Road. Though in need of rehabilitation, the trail from Fuller to Everett was generally flat and wide. Beyond Everett Road the trail gets hemmed in between I-90 and the tracks. As we edged closer to the railroad tracks we also had to deal with the track ballast stones and had to walk our bikes more often. Eventually, we reached the underpass where I-90 crosses the tracks. As shown below this is a very tight pinch point and I’m certain authorities would not permit a bike path along this section without substantial improvements.

I-90-Underpass-C[1]The Study imagines that the trail will follow north side of I-90 and along a cantilever bridge to cross the railroad tracks. It would then cut back under I-90 using Anderson Rd. The Study trail would then use redeveloped abandoned rail trestles to cross back over the tracks to a point near the Freihofer (now Bimbo) Bakery site. Note the pointer to Anderson Rd at the top of the picture below. Everett is at the bottom.

Anderson Rd.

Anderson Rd

   ^ Everett

Rail Trestles

The Study section showing the Trail crossing the abandoned trestles leading back to a point near Tivoli Park is shown below. I also drew a pink arrow pointing to an existing Livingston Ave. entrance to the Tivoli Park Trails. The costs of constructing the cantilever bridge, restoring and modifying the trestle bridges would be significant and would require significant negotiations with the Railroads. The Study plan would solve the difficult issues of crossing I-90, the tracks and Everett Road.

As there was no such cantilever bridge at present, we pushed our bikes under I-90 and carried our bikes over to the north side of the tracks. We noted the trestle crossing the tracks. As the trail on the north side of the tracks soon vanished, we carried our bikes back over to the south side near Tivoli Park.   After a bit of bumbling about we found we could carry our bikes down an embankment and onto a very nice new trail through Tivoli Park. This new trail section is apparently part of a water drainage project. There were hundreds of new plantings in place and being prepared for landscaping. This is going to be a gem of a trail section when completed. We followed it out of Tivoli Park and out to Northern Boulevard. As it was getting late we left the rest of the ride to Corning Trail for another day and headed back via city streets.

New Tivoli Park Trail

Tivoli-Trail[1]It should be noted that the Study anticipated the rest of the bike route from Tivoli Park to the Corning Trail would be by City Streets. The author thought the options of a) following the deep railroad ravine or b) cantilevering along I-90 would be too costly and would not provide significant advantages for neighborhood users. Here I believe the Study’s proposed route could be adjusted to use some of Albany’s few improved bicycle friendly roads and other improvements following Northern Blvd to Manning to Ten Broeck to Clinton to the “To Be Repurposed” 787 Ramp to the Hudson/Corning Trail.

I think the biggest problems with developing the trail at present are 1) fixing the crossing of Fuller Road, which was a tragic victim of Traffic Circle Madness and 2) figuring out a cost effective method of connecting from Everett Road to Tivoli Park.

One of the study conclusions was that it would be important to find some early “wins”. I think the early wins would need to be very cost effective. If parts of the trail were opened, even with on road sections, this could generate public demand for fixing the more expensive sections. A very easy win, and one that might resound with the powers that be, would be to first link the new Tivoli Trail with the Corning Trail via the politically popular Repurposed 787 Ramp.

Another win could be connecting Central at Yardboro with Fuller. However, I think the traffic circle at Fuller is so dangerous the cost of fixing that circle would need to be worked in. The same is probably true of Central Ave. Even if the trail did not immediately continue on the other side, pedestrians and cyclists would need somewhere safe to cross if they wanted to continue north or west.

In the shorter term there are other ways of connecting the trail from Everett to Tivoli Park without cantilever bridges and rehabilitated rail trestles. The Study noted the

Dutch Stairs[1]

possibility of building a Dutch Stair from the Trail to the East side of Everett Road which is 20 feet overhead. The Dutch Stair concept was used on the pedestrian bridge across I-787 to Jennings Landing. By accessing the East side of Everett, cyclists and pedestrians could follow a sidewalk/street route to Tivoli by following Watervliet Ave. Extension, continuing onto Commerce Ave., turning right on Terminal Street and left on Livingstone Ave.. As pointed out in pink above there is currently access to the Tivoli Park trails on Livingston Ave. Below are a diagram of the Dutch Stair concept, a pointer to where the stair might emerge on Everett and “S” indicators where signaling might be used on Everett to allow safe passage.

everett

Alternatively, it may be possible to continue under I-90 as our group did. There would certainly need to be some fencing to separate cyclists from the railway. Once on the south side of I-90, it should be possible to access Watervliet Ave. and then take a left onto Commerce Ave. and continue onto Corning Trail as described above. This would doubtless require negotiation with and acquiescence of the Railroad and businesses at the end of Watervliet Ave. Some of the other conclusions of the Study were that the Greenway would need a “champion”, a study group and a “friends of the trail”. I think that ABC could play a role in each of these tasks.

google view

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Capital Trails-New York

In January 2019, the Capital District Transportation Committee – the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Albany-Rensselaer-Saratoga-Schenectady metropolitan areas – released its final plan for the four-county trail master plan.

Capital Trails-New York is an overall branding and area designation. Individual trails within the system will retain their own identity much as is the case with the statewide Empire State Trail network. The advantage of this approach is twofold – it will attract newcomers – tourists and new residents – to the area and will encourage those with allegiance to a local trail to continue their involvement.

The complete plan is here – www.cdtcmpo.org/trails

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CDTC developed this plan as a toolbox for local governments, trail advocates, and organizations. CDTC cannot implement the plan because it cannot initiate capital programs. The economic data, maintenance case studies, and branding plan provide the spine for cities and towns to create their own trail and/or Complete Streets plans to connect to the system. These data also will help in competing for funding and offer ideas for local friends groups to promote trail projects, advocate for trail connections, or support an existing trail and a marketing strategy to attract private sector support and champions.

Since this plan will drive development of trails for years to come, it is imperative that you be familiar with it. While the plan is packed with interesting and valuable information, you should check the pages that refer to your area:

  • Albany County – page 28
  • Rensselaer County – page 34
  • Saratoga County – page 39
  • Schenectady County – page 44

In each such section, you will find a trail map and detail description of each trail and its features.

If this plan is to reach its goal of 148 miles by 2020 and 289 miles after full implementation and for the region to benefit economically and socially from a trails network, you will need to get involved in supporting your municipality and advocacy groups in pushing for completion – trail by trail.

Pages 81-104 provide case studies of what people (like you) were able to accomplish. Starting with our own Friends of the Rail Trail and the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail, these case studies relate how great success was achieved but also how important was involvement by the citizenry. The studies are loaded with how-to tips.

As a side note, we in the Albany Bicycle Coalition were pleased to see the Albany-Colonie Connector adopted as Supporting Trail #14 as one of the key connectors between Guilderland, Albany, the Village and Town of Colonie, and the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail at Lions Park. See page 33. This connector ties in with the Albany Loop (Core Trail “C,” pg. 29), Patroon Greenway (Core Trail “D”), Shaker Trail (Supporting Trail #13), and the University at Albany Purple Path. The Albany Bicycle Coalition has promoted this connector and has reached out in this effort to municipal leaders and local NYS Assembly members.

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Filed under Albany-Colonie Connector, Capital Trails-New York, Empire State Trail, Trail Network