Construction Underway on Dutchess County’s Urban Trail Project
Dutchess County Legislators recently toured the construction site of the "Northside Line," part of the County's Urban Trail Project. The property was formerly owned by the CSX Transportation and was donated to the county by Scenic Hudson.
The Urban Trail Project's mission is to transform the former rail line - an important part of Poughkeepsie's rich industrial history - and turn them into a new option for safe community access and transportation.
The vision of the Urban Trail is maximizing connection and accessibility for those who walk, run, or bike whether for transportation, recreation, or other purposes. This expansion of the region's trail system will link Poughkeepsie's northern neighborhoods with key destinations such as Marist College, Hudson Heritage, the Hudson River waterfront, the Walkway Over the Hudson, the WRS Dutchess Rail Trail, the Fall Kill Creek, and a variety of nearby parks and local businesses.
Trails of the Past
According to North Side Connected, in 1873, the 2.7-mile rail was built as a link between east-west and north-south railroad lines intersecting in Poughkeepsie. Freight trains delivered raw materials to industries along it and transported their finished products to markets nationwide. They also delivered coal to the newly-completed Hudson River State Hospital.
After the Second World War, the need for this rail gradually declined as many industries in the city and town began moving to other parts of the country. The rail line has remained unused since the 1990s when the state hospital closed.
The Urban Trail Today
With the success of trails like the Empire State Trail and other Rail Trail programs, Scenic Hudson saw the potential to link residential and commercial neighborhoods in the city and town of Poughkeepsie, as well as Marist College and the Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital.
Scenic Hudson negotiated and funded the acquisition of the former rail corridor in 2019, and the following year, Dutchess County Legislature voted unanimously to assume ownership of the corridor and to develop and maintain a new rail trail - the Urban Trail.
The first phase is a half-mile section between Parker Avenue in the City of Poughkeepsie and West Cedar street in the Town of Poughkeepsie.
Paving is scheduled to happen in the next coming weeks. The team is also working on including lighting and security on this new transportation corridor that will be open for 24/7 use.
The Northside Line is one of several projects happening in 2023 in the Dutchess County Parks Systems and included in the 2023 Executive Budget that County Executive Marc Molinaro will present on November 1st.
The Future of the Urban Trail
The Urban Trail will offer a car-free option to walk or bike to work, school, shops, medical facilities, and public parks on the Hudson River. This will benefit people living along it, residents of the Northside neighborhoods, Hudson Heritage (on the former state hospital site), and Marist College students. This project, combined with the planned improvements to city streets and sidewalks, will make travel through the Northside safer and more convenient.