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Downtown Connector Trail Moving Forward In Saratoga Springs

Peter Faith details the proposed Downtown Connector trail in Saratoga Springs
Lucas Willard
Peter Faith details the proposed Downtown Connector trail in Saratoga Springs

Officials in Saratoga Springs presented plans last night for a new multi-use trail that will connect the city’s downtown with the Adirondack Northway.

For years, the City of Saratoga Springs has been developing its so-called Greenbelt Trail. When completed, the network of trails will provide a safe route both through and surrounding the city. It would also connect into other regional trails, including the proposed Empire State trail that would traverse the state.

On Monday evening, Tina Carton, city administrator for Parks, Open Space, Historic Preservation, Sustainability presented details for the proposed Downtown Connector trail. The project would link Lake Avenue near City Hall to Northway Exit 15.

Carton said the project would complement trails already completed within the city.

“We have the original Spring Run Trail, Railroad Run, and Bog Meadow. This will add an additional 1.66 miles of trail. The entire trail is a 24-mile trail in and around, through the city,” said Carton.

The Downtown Connector is one of several trail projects currently in the works. With a price tag of around $3.6 million for planning and construction, the project could be completed as soon as summer 2020.

Peter Faith of consulting firm GPI said the Downtown Connector would involve a 10-foot wide trail for walkers and bikers of all abilities.

The route would include a possible reconfiguration of one intersection.

“Some of the design challenges include some of the impacts to parking lots, some impacts to trees in the area that we’re trying to avoid, but we have been able to design a project that has very little impacts to the right-of-way along the corridor,” said Faith.

Dan Lynch of the group Bikeatoga said the Downtown Connector will be “momentous” when completed. He acknowledged the amount of time it would take to complete the entire 24-mile Greenbelt trail.

“But if we could just put in one section at a time, it gives us promise for the next section. So, for us, as bicyclists, we just want have more space, more safe spaces to right around in,” said Lynch.

The city is seeking agreements with two property owners along the Downtown Connector route.

Litigation with property owners has tied up another section of the Greenbelt trail along Geyser Road in the southwest portion of the city.

Mayor Meg Kelly said during a campaign event last week that litigation for the Geyser trail is ending “as we speak.”

“We have worked endless hours to end this litigation and it is on its final stretch here, so we are going to see the trail…”

The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce has been a supporter of the Greenbelt trail’s development. The Chamber has been lobbying the state and federal governments to approve funding for Amtrak to allow riders to bring their bicycles with them.

President and CEO Todd Shimkus said the Chamber began lobbying for bikes on trains in 2011. 

“Now Amtrak is looking at purchasing new trains and as part of that there’s a whole lobbying effort to make sure that the new trains they purchase sometime in the five to 10 years to make sure that they have the roll-on bike service that we’ve been asking for. That would make it easier than retrofitting old trains. But it’s only $500,000 bucks, so…”

With the Downtown Connector taking the Greenbelt Trail one step further, Shimkus is anticipating the network’s connection to other planned trails within Saratoga County and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed 750-mile Empire State Trail.

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