News Release



For More Information:

William R. Steinhaus
Dutchess County Executive
(845) 486-2000

For Immediate Release

June 22, 2000


County Executive Steinhaus Announces Opening of Second Phase

of Harlem Valley Rail Trail


Millerton, NY - County Executive William R. Steinhaus today enthusiastically declared the Second Phase of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail open to walkers, runners, cyclists, rollerbladers and the mobility challenged of all ages and sizes. "Today we celebrate the Harlem Valley Rail Trail's arrival in the Village of Millerton and the completion of this important bicycle/pedestrian link between the vital Harlem Valley hamlets of Amenia and Millerton," stated Steinhaus. "The opening of this new segment will nearly double the length of the Rail Trail available to the public and we anticipate that it will exponentially increase its usage."

The Second Phase of Harlem Valley Rail Trail runs the approximately 3.6 miles from the trail's current terminus in the historic hamlet of Coleman Station to Railroad Square in the center of the Village of Millerton. The construction of this section included the redecking of five bridges and the total reconstruction of another at a cost of cost approximately $1,000,000 dollars. "Fully eighty percent (80 %) of the construction costs of both Phase I and 11 of Dutchess County's portion of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail have been funded through Federal Transportation Programs, thanks to the hard work of my Commissioner of Public Works (Paul Cassillo, P.E.) and my Commissioner of Planning and Development (RogerAkeley)", said Steinhaus. " In New York State, these funds are administered by the Department of Transportation and we greatly appreciate their cooperation, as well."

"However, that's not the best part," continued the County Executive. "The terrain and topography through which the Second Phase traverses provide even greater opportunities to enjoy the spectacular natural beauty of the Harlem Valley. The segment of the Rail Trail that we are opening today includes areas where the railbed was built up, which offer dramatic views from atop its prism, out over the surrounding farms and wetlands of the Valley's floor to striking forested ridge lines of the Valley's walls rising up on either side. We look forward to working with local school systems and the Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association to provide interpretive materials which will allow the variety of stream crossings and rockcuts in Phase 11 to be used for outdoor environmental education and for local history lessons on the major role the railroad played in the historical life of the Valley and the natural obstacles it had to overcome."

The success of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail has been based on the continued cooperation between Dutchess County, New York State, the Towns of North East and Amenia, the Village of Millerton and the volunteer Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association. The construction of Phase II, also included coordinating a land swap deal with Metro North, which allowed the County to eliminate an approximately one mile bypass on two County Routes that would have required trail users to leave the safety of the railbed. Now, walkers and cyclists will only have to cross one road on the entire 3.6 miles.

The Harlem Valley Rail Trail began with the joint purchase by Dutchess County and New York State of 22 miles of abandoned rail corridor using Environmental Quality Bond Act funds. The County has been developing the planned 18 mile portion of the trail, located in Dutchess, through a long-term lease with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. NYSOPRHP has constructed a three mile segment of the rail trail in Columbia County and is now working to renovate the 75 foot trestle bridge, which will link their portion of the trail to Copake Falls State Park.

Jayne McLaughlin, Director of the Taconic Region of the NYSOPRHP stated, "This project is a shining example of partnerships in action starting with the grassroots support of citizens, community leaders,Dutchess County and New York State Parks. The Harlem Valley Rail Trail provides a wonderful array of outdoor recreational opportunities that grow mile by mile, community by community."

The Harlem Valley Rail Trail has always enjoyed strong support from the local officials and anticipation of the trail's arrival in Millerton has peaked their interest as well. "We are extremely happy that the Harlem Valley Rail Trail has finally reached the center of our community." stated Town of North East Supervisor David H. Sherman. "It is an attractively finished pathway passing through very scenic areas of our town. The Rail Trail will benefit the County and our community, adding to the quality of life residents and visitors alike."

County Executive Steinhaus stated that the County, Town of North East, Village of Millerton and the Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association have already had discussions with the Hudson River Greenway and other State Agencies as to how to use the Rail trail as a centerpiece for the creation of a Village Green in Millerton. "We all believe that with its connection to Millerton and its doubling in length, the Harlem Valley Rail Trail becomes not only a recreational resource of regional importance, but an economic resource on which the surrounding communities can build." continued Steinhaus.

Richard Hermans, Chairman of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association, echoed the County Executive's thoughts stating, "The Trail has long been anticipated by the Millerton community and this new section will disappoint no one. The completion of the trail into Millerton is a significant step in the revitalization of the center of our village." "Few events in the life of a village can match the impact a trail such as this will have upon Millerton! " concluded Hermans.

"Connecting the southern end of the rail trail from Mechanic Street in the Town of Amenia to the new Metro North train station, located just north of the Hamlet of Wassaic some 3.16 miles to the south, is the next job for the County. We anticipate that will occur approximately in the Fall of 2001 stated the County Executive, "However, in the meantime we hope to continue working with the Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association and local officials to add amenities and interpretive materials to the trail and continue to maintain and fine tune the existing sections."


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