Monday, May 4, 2009

New trail network

Here's a message from Scenic Hudson about the Walkway Loop Trail, a 3.5-mile trail slated for completion in October that will link waterfront attractions on the eastern and western shores of the Hudson.

New Trail Network to Connect with Walkway, Local Attractions

When Walkway Over the Hudson State Park opens this October as a high point in the state’s Quadricentennial celebrations, visitors will be able to enhance their experience by having easy access to area parks, historic destinations, restaurants, marinas and other points of interest along the Poughkeepsie and Lloyd waterfronts. The vision is to provide Walkway visitors with an array of scenic and cultural destinations that will promote recreational and business activity along nearby shorelines and downtowns on both sides of the Hudson. A unique team featuring representatives from state and local government, a regional land preservation nonprofit, a local rail trail nonprofit and local residents is behind the project – called the Walkway Loop Trail.

Details of the Walkway Loop Trail
The Walkway Loop Trail will connect Walkway Over the Hudson and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Mid-Hudson Bridge and traverse a number of existing local roads and trails for a total length of approximately 3.5 miles. The loop trail will open at the same time as Walkway Over the Hudson on Saturday, October 3, for the Quadricentennial celebration marking the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s legendary voyage. Initially the trail on the Poughkeepsie side of the Hudson will travel along the riverfront and then inland a few blocks to reach access to the Walkway Over the Hudson. Next year plans call for an elevator that will provide direct access to the Walkway Over the Hudson from Poughkeepsie’s waterfront on existing and proposed pedestrian esplanades and trails.

To help visitors navigate the Walkway Loop Trail, the team creating it is designing four large panels that will show the entire route as well as connections to additional trails. More than 25 Walkway Loop Trail markers will be placed along the route, and copies of a loop trail map will be available.

Additional connections in Lloyd and Poughkeepsie
From the Walkway Loop Trail, people will be able to connect with additional trails that exist or are being created. These additional trails include in Highland the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, which is scheduled to open with Walkway Over the Hudson, and also in Poughkeepsie the Dutchess Rail Trail, which is planned to open in 2010. Parks that will be accessible from the Walkway Loop Trail on the Lloyd side of the Hudson include Franny Reese State Park, created by Scenic Hudson; the new Highland Landing Park, created by Scenic Hudson and the Town of Lloyd; and Johnson-Iorio Memorial Park. On the Poughkeepsie side the connections will include Kaal Rock Park, an important historic site; Waryas Park; and eventually Long View Park at Marist College. In addition Lloyd and Poughkeepsie are seeking to create connections that will encourage visitors to explore the historical, cultural and artistic treasures just inland from the Hudson. To date 50 destinations have been identified for this initiative.

Stakeholders come together to create Walkway Loop Trail
In October 2008 Scenic Hudson suggested the idea of the loop trail to City of Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik and other city officials. Shortly afterward Scenic Hudson convened a group of interested parties to explore the project. The group has been meeting monthly and includes representatives from the Town of Lloyd; City of Poughkeepsie; New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; New York State Bridge Authority; Walkway Over the Hudson; Hudson Valley Rail Trail Association; Scenic Hudson; and several community leaders such as Nancy Cozean, former City of Poughkeepsie mayor and now coordinator for Poughkeepsie’s Quadricentennial celebrations, and Joseph Bertolozzi, composer of “Bridge Music,” percussion pieces he creates by “playing” the Mid-Hudson Bridge. His “Bridge Music” will be accessible at permanent listening stations on the bridge and the Lloyd and Poughkeepsie waterfronts. Design firms Pirtle Design and Bergmann Associates also have contributed to the project.

Walkway Loop Trail has economic advantages too

The loop trail and the links it provides to numerous waterfront and community attractions will help already potent tourism enterprises in Dutchess and Ulster counties. Already Dutchess County enjoys more than $447 million annually in tourism spending, and the figure is $388 million for Ulster County. The Walkway Loop Trail also will showcase the region’s unique beauty, nature and quality of life – all leading selling points for doing business in the valley, according to a report by Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation.

Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson, said, “The loop trail offers an exciting opportunity to enjoy waterfront offerings on both sides of the Hudson. Scenic Hudson wanted to get involved as an extension of the $1 million we contributed to Walkway Over the Hudson. We know how much walkers, runners and cyclists will appreciate opportunities to explore the 30 miles of connected trails that showcase the river’s and valley’s beauty and history. This project, like Scenic Hudson’s collaborative campaign to Save the Land That Matters Most, will create an enduring legacy for the Quadricentennial and help boost the region’s economy.”

James P. Sproat, chairman of the New York State Bridge Authority, said, “By providing a southern link in this loop trail, we’re pleased that the Franklin D. Roosevelt Mid-Hudson Bridge will play an important part in forwarding the recreational and economic development opportunities that Walkway Over the Hudson will bring to both shores of the river.”

John C. Tkazyik, mayor of the City of Poughkeepsie, said, “We are fortunate as a city to be linked across the Hudson by the world’s longest pedestrian bridge. The bridge will bring business to our community and will be great for stimulating our local economy by drawing visitors to the region from all across New York State and surrounding regions. We look forward to providing visitors with all that our city has to offer in business, art and our local heritage.”

Joseph Bertolozzi, composer of “Bridge Music,” said, “The trail loop is a brilliant gathering of existing threads into a new fabric. Connecting independent attractions like “Bridge Music,” Walkway Over the Hudson and the Rail Trail is a masterpiece of organization. I thank all who’ve been part of the effort.”

Nancy Cozean, chair of Quadricentennial events in Poughkeepsie, said, “The Walkway Loop Trail will offer visitors and residents a unique opportunity to see the great diversity of our Hudson Valley. From environmental and rural resources on the western side of the Hudson River to the urban neighborhoods and historical sites on the eastern shore, walkers can experience two different pictures of our Hudson Valley that are linked by our signature bridges. It’s a trail you won’t want to miss.”

About the Walkway Loop Trail
The Walkway Loop Trail when completed in October 2009 will be a 3.5-mile trail linking waterfront attractions on the eastern and western shores of the Hudson. The trail will cross the existing pedestrian walkway on the north side of the Mid-Hudson Bridge and Walkway Over the Hudson State Park, formerly the dilapidated Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge before being transformed into the world’s highest and longest pedestrian walkway. In Highland the trail will pass through Johnson-Iorio Memorial Park and link to two new parks – Franny Reese State Park and Highland Landing Park. Sites along the loop trail in Poughkeepsie will include Waryas Park, which features a boat launch and cafĂ©, and the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum, with its river-themed exhibits. The Walkway Loop Trail also will link with the Dutchess Rail Trail, due to be completed in 2010, and the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, due to be completed for the October 2009 opening of Walkway Over the Hudson. When complete the Walkway Loop Trail and connecting trails will constitute nearly 30 miles of off-road fun for walkers, runners and bicyclists. More trail connections are anticipated.

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