Dutchess Rail Trail spur bond discussion

Dutchess County Rail Trail. Photo provided.

POUGHKEEPSIE – Dutchess County lawmakers will get an update on plans to create a spur off of the rail trail into the City of Poughkeepsie on Thursday night.

Legislators on the Public Works and Capital Projects Committee will hear an overview of the plan from DPW staffers on the proposed $757,500 bond resolution that will cover preliminary planning and design expenses to convert the abandoned rail bed into a trail that connects to the existing rail trail, near the Walkway Over the Hudson.

In July of 2019, the legislature approved the acquisition of five parcels from Scenic Hudson to allow for the project to move forward.  The spur will travel from the vicinity of the Walkway and rail trail intersection east behind the Dutchess County Jail and over North Hamilton Street and cross under North Clinton Street, in addition to other areas of the town and city of Poughkeepsie.

In September of last year, the county issued a Request for Proposals for planning services for the project.  In a memo from DPW Commissioner Robert Balkind to the county executive’s office, the purpose of the project is to “Build an urban trail system connecting the town and city neighborhoods with the WRS Dutchess County Rail Trail, Walkway Over the Hudson State Park, and other cultural, scenic, residential, and commercial locales.”

County Executive Marcus Molinaro has been seeking to expand outdoor opportunities in the county since he first took office. “We have been very selective in moving projects forward. The design and planning of our Dutchess-Poughkeepsie Trail is an exciting opportunity to link together so many neighborhoods, new development, businesses, and community assets in and around Poughkeepsie. This has been a great partnership with Scenic Hudson, Marist, and the City and I’m hopeful the Legislature will approve our taking this first step.”

Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison has also touted the spur as an added effort to revitalize the city and improve safety.  “It is another way to connect the neighborhoods of our city. Walking and biking make a healthier impact on all of us. We want to be known as a city of connections. It also activates abandoned land that creates a safer environment for everyone.”

Looking east from N. Hamilton towards N. Clinton.

On Tuesday, before tropical storm Isaiah arrived in the region, county DPW workers were delivering loads of dirt to the section between N. Hamilton and North Clinton Streets and then leveling it with a bulldozer.  Prior to the work, the area had been largely overgrown and was providing cover for illicit activities that the police department has regularly responded to as a result of complaints. 

According to DPW Commissioner Balkind, “The soil is the result of removing topsoil and sod from the CSX corridor behind the County jail property, where we are creating a temporary parking area for Sheriff’s Office employees to use while the new Justice and Transition Center project is built.  Their current parking area will become part of the construction area so a new temporary parking area is needed for staff during construction.”

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