In Albany Tuesday, officials hailed the completion of Phase One of the South End Connector, which links two popular bike trails.
The long-awaited connection between Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail and the Mohawk Hudson Hike-Bike Trail has now been made.
The South End Connector was first conceived in 2013 and was years in the making. Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan says the connection becomes the city’s first physically separated two-way cycle track, creating a safe and environmentally friendly corridor for pedestrians and cyclists.
“When we started this project we wanted to explore all possibilities. We had a number of planning meetings, a number of feasibility studies, and this project has really accomplished what every one set out to accomplish when we started this, I’m not even going to count how many years ago. This is a 1.5-mile corridor that includes a landscape buffer between the trail and Interstate 787 frontage road as well as a curb seperation along South Pearl Street between 787 frontage road and the Albany County Heldeberg-Hudson Rail Trail trail head. And this is now a component of the Empire State Trail.”
When completed by the end of the year, the Empire State Trail will be a continuous 750-mile route spanning the state from New York City to Canada and Buffalo to Albany, creating the longest multi-use state trail in the nation.
Democratic State Assemblyman John McDonald is one of the local lawmakers who helped secure funding for the project:
“As a former mayor who worked on creating miles of trails in my own city I know how important this is for the community at large. To be able to support an effort like this, here in our Capital City, really is a regional benefit.”
Former Albany Common Councilor Leah Golby is board president of the New York Bicycling Coalition.
"For anyone who currently bikes, who wants to get out and bike some more, it's great for local businesses. Bicycling is a huge driver of economic activity and economic development, and this is a great day for the residents and visitors to the city of Albany."
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos:
“This is a great time to open a trail like this and connect communities, as far away as Voorheesville, where I’m from, all the way down to here in Albany’s South End.”
Phase Two of the $1.7 million dollar connection is about to begin. The project will work to activate community space surrounding the South End Connector underneath Interstate 787. Again, Seggos.
“People need to recreate locally, they need options locally. We’ve been going through months of the coronavirus pandemic, looking for outlets locally to recreate and play, to get out and experience nature. This is the exact kind of project that we need at this very moment.”
Officials say if you are planning to visit the South End Connector Bikeway or the connecting trails, observe appropriate social distancing and other precautions.