HUDSON — The Empire State Trail, a mixed-use bike and walking path, will soon be connecting to Hudson on Harry Howard Avenue.
The city announced Sunday that preparation for construction will begin this week. The announcement asks drivers to continue to use extra caution on the road, which has a 20 mph speed limit.
The project is a section of the 750-mile Empire State Trail, which stretches from New York City to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo.
“This section of trail will connect the Dugway from Mill Street to Greenport and make it easier to walk or bike to Hudson City Schools, as well as Mill Street and Charles Williams Park,” according to city officials.
This week’s work will be moving utility poles to clear space for the dedicated biking and walking lane. The next step will be relocating hydrants and catch basins.
“Right now all utilities have been relocated from the old poles to the new ones, except Verizon,” Department of Public Works Superintendent Rob Perry said Monday. “They should be off this week, then the old poles will be removed by [National] Grid.”
Perry said there will be intermittent lane closures on Harry Howard Avenue to relocate underground utilities. He estimated the above-ground construction will begin in two weeks, and work will take around a month to complete.
“The Empire Trail will be much safer for pedestrians and bicyclists,” Hudson City School Superintendent Maria Suttmeier said. “The greatest benefit besides student safety is the ability for all individuals to exercise safely while enjoying the beauty of the area.”
Suttmeier said the construction will not affect school operations since they are closed through at least April 15 due to COVID-19.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order put New York on “pause.” The order, mandating all non-essential employees to work from home, is now extended until April 15.
Construction, one of 12 categories of essential workers, is divided into essential and non-essential projects with more than one worker.
“Essential construction may continue and includes roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing and homeless shelters,” according to the order. Fines for not complying with the mandated closure could be up to $10,000 per violation.
City officials said workers at the site must maintain social distance, which is six feet, including entering and leaving the site, and meals.
In January 2017 Cuomo announced the Empire State Trail initiative, the longest multi-use state trail in the nation, in an effort to enhance New York’s outdoor recreation, community vitality and tourism development. The project is funded by New York state.
“The new path on Harry Howard Avenue will make Hudson more walkable and bike-able,” Mayoral Aide Michael Chameides said. “In particular, it will make it easier for students to travel to and from the school.”
Locally, the 36-mile Albany-Hudson Electric Trail will run from Albany to Hudson, then along local roads to Olana State Historic Site, and continue to the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge, where it crosses the Hudson River. There is no public access to the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail at this time.
This section traverses two counties, Rensselaer and Columbia; eight towns: Greenport, Stockport, Stuyvesant, Kinderhook, Chatham, Nassau, Schodack, East Greenbush; and five cities and villages: Kinderhook, Valatie, Nassau and Rensselaer and Albany. The trail will sometimes follow or intersect with streets.
Historically, the Albany-Hudson Electric Trolley operated along this route from 1899 to 1929, powered by electricity supplied by the Stuyvesant Falls hydro-electric power plant.
“In the future, we can expect visitors to Hudson who are exploring the Empire State Trail,” Chameides said.
Approximately 400 miles of the trail already exist in disconnected segments, and the project is slated for completion by the end of 2020.
A. Colarusso & Son, Inc., a Hudson-based construction company will be completing the 19-mile section of trail work after winning the bid from the State. The company has already made progress on portions of the trail, including two bridge abutments and steel girders where the trail crosses the Valatie Kill. The bridges’ rails and decks will be installed this spring. Trail construction began in January in Greenport and Stockport. High-use areas will be paved in asphalt, and the remainder of the trail will be a stonedust surface, a finely-ground compacted limestone.
Abby Hoover is a reporter for Columbia-Greene Media. Contact her at email@example.com.