Capital Region cities seek to bridge a pedestrian divide
As New York sorts out how to spend millions of federal dollars for railroad upgrades, officials in Albany and Rensselaer are hoping some of that money can help restore a pedestrian and bike pathway over the Hudson River to reconnect the two cities.
The Livingston Avenue Bridge is over 100 years old. It can still carry trains over the river, but it's nearing the end of its life, and its pedestrian walkway has been closed since the mid 1980's.
With the bridge listed for either restoration or a complete rebuild soon, officials on both sides of the Hudson, including Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, would like to see the walkway return.
“It makes sense to put a biking/walking path connected to it when they renovate this whole site, and we’ve been pushing in Washington, [and] pushing with the state for the appropriate monies," he says.
The idea has broad community support and Senator Chuck Schumer has also helped push for it.
"The bridge does desperately need to be replaced, " says Martin Daley, Project Director for Parks and Trails New York. "It represents a bottleneck. Only one train can cross it at a time ... you can't put a modern-day freight train across that bridge. Amtrak trains are limited to 15 miles an hour."
Albany County legislator Merton Simpson says the key is getting approval for the walkway from the major stakeholders: Amtrak, CSX, and the New York State Department of Transportation.
"I'm cautiously optimistic," says Simpson. "There's not an economic issue involved. There's clearly political support and there's clearly a community need. I think this is going to happen. I'm certainly going to work until it does."
Both Albany and Rensselaer’s city common councils and county legislatures recently passed unanimous resolutions supporting the walkway.