Kingston, NY Ulster County Executive Mike Hein was joined today by Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan in announcing the award of a $100,000 grant to advance the planned extension of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail (“HVRT”).  The grant, which will be directed to the Town of Lloyd, was awarded by Scenic Hudson at the request of County Executive Hein in support of the County Executive’s vision for an interconnected rail trail network connecting the Walkway Over the Hudson to the Ashokan Reservoir and Catskill Park.  The funding commitment will help defray the local matching cost for the Town of Lloyd’s Hudson Valley Rail Trail West- Phase 3 project, which will extend the existing 3.6-mile HVRT an additional 0.7-miles from Tony Williams Park to New Paltz Road.  In addition, to move the connection of the HVRT to New Paltz forward, Ulster County recently applied for and received federal Transportation Alternative Program (“TAP”) funding to begin planning Hudson Valley Rail Trail West- Phase 4, which will further extend the HVRT to South Street, bringing the total trail length from the Walkway approximately 5.5 miles into Ulster County.  The HVRT connects via the Walkway Over the Hudson to another 13 miles along the Dutchess Rail Trail.
“This action is a huge leap in connecting Lloyd to New Paltz for runners, walkers and cyclists.  Ulster County is grateful for Scenic Hudson’s generous support of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail and its commitment to the vision of a world-class, interconnected rail trail network stretching from the Walkway Over the Hudson to the Ashokan Reservoir,” stated County Executive Hein.  “Scenic Hudson played a critical role in helping make the Walkway Over the Hudson a reality, and the grant award for this critical project is now helping connect the Walkway to New Paltz, and then via the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail to Kingston, and eventually the Ashokan Reservoir.”
“Ulster County is rich with vibrant town centers, productive farmland, waterways and recreational destinations, which contribute meaningfully to the quality of life of its residents and the region’s $4.2 billion tourism economy,” stated Scenic Hudson president Ned Sullivan. “By working together and focusing on linkages between these assets, we can realize the vision of the Ulster County Executive and Legislature for an interconnected rail trail network connecting the Walkway Over the Hudson to the Ashokan Reservoir.”
The Hudson Valley Rail Trail West- Phase 3 has received significant federal transportation funding, and Scenic Hudson’s grant will help to offset the required local match by the Town of Lloyd.  The Phase 3 project is currently in the final design stage and is slated to begin construction in summer 2015.  The County also plans to begin design and planning work on Phase 4 in 2015.  Upon completion of these two extensions, the HVRT will extend to less than 1.5 miles from the New Paltz sidewalk system, and the County and New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) are working to identify options for completing the connection to New Paltz along the Route 299 NYSDOT right-of-way.
Connecting the HVRT and Wallkill Valley Rail Trail builds upon the ongoing success of the Walkway Over the Hudson and the growing popularity of the HVRT in Lloyd.  Both of these trails have become beloved community assets for bicycling, walking, running, and hosting community events.  Ulster County is moving forward to “fill the gaps” between these two trails.  The County has also partnered with the Open Space Institute and Woodstock Land Conservancy on the first planning phases of the proposed rail trail along the Ashokan so it is working on both ends of the future trail system to build what the County intends will be a world-class tourism destination.

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