City of Rensselaer Receives $2.5 Million In State Funding
The City of Rensselaer has announced it has received $2.5 million in state funding for a variety of projects, including the Hollow Trail as part of the Empire State Trail and additional critical bicycle and pedestrian access improvements to the Rensselaer riverfront.
These projects were selected through a statewide competitive solicitation process. Awardees presented plans that will increase options for non-vehicular transportation, reduce vehicle emissions or traffic congestion, or both. The funding, which will provide up to 80 percent of the cost of each project, is made available through the Federal Highway Administration and administered directly by the New York State Department of Transportation.
“Rensselaer has made significant improvements and enhancements to its overall infrastructure over the past 15 years, amounting more than $80 million in investments,” said Mayor Richard J. Mooney. “With this TAP funding, the City will be able to connect our residents to the riverfront, increase access for bicycles, and make Rensselaer a better place to live, work, and play.”
The Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant will help the City create a connected unified trail system that can be used for recreation, enhancement of quality life and transportation connecting the north end and south end of the City. Decades of fits and starts and public visioning will be realized with the securing of these funds. This project will provide a safe route to school, a catalyst for economic revitalization, a “natural escape” for City residents and tourists and an important on-road/off-road linkage between The Hollow Trail, the Rensselaer Hudson River Waterfront Public Access Esplanade and the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail (future Empire State Trail), which will in the future have a trailhead located at Riverfront Park.
The proposed project will begin as an off-road trail on City-owned property adjacent to the Rensselaer Junior/Senior High School off of Van Rensselaer Drive, and travel through the 67-acre City-owned property, locally known as “The Hollow” for approximately 1.8 miles. The proposed Hollow Trail will be a 10-ft wide paved trail running through the forested gorge, and will terminate in the south at the intersection of 6th Street, which is being reconstructed to include new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible sidewalks along both sides of the road to the intersection with Partition Street. A small parking area will also be constructed on a City-owned parcel off of 6th Street. On-road improvements of the trail will include ADA compliant sidewalks for pedestrian travel, high-visibility crosswalks and signage, and sharrows for bicycle access along 6th St., Partition St., and Broadway. The project meets a critical demand for safe surface transportation of pedestrians and bicyclists through the City of Rensselaer, connecting the Hudson River waterfront with a safe off-road and on-road trail for users of all ages and abilities.
The project will have several benefits to the community, including but not limited to: improving travel safety for residents and tourists by offering a safer, fully ADA accessible surface for users of all ages and abilities; providing a non-motorized transportation alternative for people without access to cars or transit; promoting healthy transportation alternatives for recreational walkers, runners, and bikers; increasing mobility and accessibility for those with disabilities or other physical impairments; minimizing bicyclists interactions with motor vehicle traffic by delineating safe bike pathways; and overall, providing safe pathways for children and families to travel between places where they live, learn, work, shop and play.
Visioning and planning for this project go back many decades and after significant effort by the City on master planning, and public input. Beginning in 1971, the City developed the first iteration of The Hollow Master Plan for a gorgeous and unique greenbelt straddling the east side of the City’s boundary with North and East Greenbush. Initial designs called for major improvements to create a new park and destination with full electric, plumbing, public pool, etc. In the end it was determined to be too costly to implement and maintain while destroying unique natural habitat and beauty. The 1980s and 1990s followed with a public conversations about finding ways to open this special area to more passive recreational development.
For more information about the City of Rensselaer, visit RensselearNY.gov or on social media (fb.com/RensselaerNYS, @RensselaerNYS on Twitter, and RensselaerNYS on Instagram).