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Past

A vital rail link

Built in 1873, this 2.7-mile rail wishbone-shaped rail spur was created 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 World War II, the need for this rail spur gradually declined as many industries in the city and town began moving to other parts of the country. In operation until the closure of the state hospital in the 1990s, it has remained unused ever since.

Past
Present

A new transportation and recreation corridor

Recognizing its potential to link residential and commercial neighborhoods in the city and town, 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. The following year, the Dutchess County Legislature voted unanimously to assume ownership of the corridor and to develop and maintain a new rail trail — the Urban Trail.

Currently in the planning stages, the Urban Trail will offer safe, convenient access between Northside and Town of Poughkeepsie neighborhoods, as well as a corridor for biking and walking to work, school, and local businesses and parks. The future Urban Trail network complements other initiatives in Poughkeepsie, including planned improvements to nearby streets and sidewalks that will increase safety and support mobility for people of all ages and abilities.

Present
Future

A boost to health and economic opportunity

The Urban Trail will provide 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 and Hudson Heritage (on the former state hospital site), and Marist College students. Combined with planned improvements to city streets and sidewalks, it will make travel through the Northside safer and more convenient.

Future

FAQs (frequently asked questions)

Dutchess County is leading the overall project, from preliminary design and permitting to final construction. Project partner Scenic Hudson enabled the project by purchasing the former rail lines. Hudson Valley Engineering Associates (HVEA) of Beacon is the design engineer of the new trail system and is assisting the county with necessary environmental permitting. Susan G. Blickstein, LLC is assisting HVEA, Inc. in community outreach and engagement.

The southernmost terminus of the proposed trail begins on N. Hamilton Street in the City of Poughkeepsie and travels north. After crossing the Dutchess Rail Trail, it continues through the city’s Northside and past the Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital. In the town, the trail runs through Fox Run at Fulton before ending at Hudson Heritage. Another spur of the trail begins on Fulton Street, heads southwest past Marist College, and ends near Kittredge Place, not far from the Hudson River.

The Urban Trail will also link over a dozen community assets, providing a new way to access them and supporting their programs and activities. They include Morse and Warring Elementary Schools, the Family Partnership Center, Beulah Baptist Church, the Dutchess County Mental Health Campus, Walkway Over the Hudson, Fall Kill Creek, Morgan Lake, and Quiet Cove Riverfront, Pulaski, Mansion Square, and College Hill Parks.

Construction of the first phase of the Urban Trail network began in spring 2022 with an initial 0.55 mile stretch from West Cedar Street in the Town of Poughkeepsie to the Dutchess Rail Trail at Parker Avenue (State Route 9G) in the City of Poughkeepsie. Completion of this section is anticipated by the end of 2022.

The safety of the Urban Trail is a key component of the design. It will have two cross-sections: the majority will be a split-use trail — with divided zones for pedestrians and bicyclists — and the rest will be shared-use trail. Where constraints limit trail width, or when usage is expected to be lighter, a shared-use approach is proposed. There will be lighting and signage throughout the new trail network. In addition, ongoing discussions with emergency first responders who will serve the trail, and their feedback, will be crucial in drafting and implementing the project’s final design.

Public participation in determining the design and future uses of the trail is vitally important. The design phase of the project began with an online community survey and virtual meetings to receive community input. Comments are already informing next steps. As future opportunities for input are planned, community questions or comments are welcome at urbantrailproject@dutchessny.gov. To learn more visit Urban Trail Project.

Dutchess County acknowledges the potential for gentrification and associated risk of rising property values. While this is not a residential project and we don’t have direct control over housing affordability, we’re actively working with Scenic Hudson, Hudson River Housing and the Poughkeepsie Affordable Housing Coalition to implement policy and provide resources to combat drastic rent hikes and displacement, especially in the city’s Northside neighborhoods.

We foresee attracting traffic to local businesses from trail users. The Urban Trail is also collaborating with Northside Junction on street improvements that may include new crosswalks, landscaping, and traffic-calming measures. We also will make every effort to employ local businesses in the trail’s construction.

It’s possible, but very unlikely. The property was previously owned by CSX and was acquired via the federal railbanking process, which allows a railroad and trail agency to collaborate on the use of out-of-service corridors until a railroad might again need it for service. Of the hundreds of rail trails created nationwide since the program began in 1983, very few have been reactivated for rail use.

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