Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced they are pushing to secure a $11.3 million federal grant that would transform the City of Kingston’s rail trail system by linking four major regional trails in the city’s center, creating a hub for pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as improving accessibility for vehicle traffic. These rail trails would link the Wallkill Valley, O&W Rondout, Kingston Point and Catskill Mountain rail trails, culminating at the Historic Stockade District and Broadway Corridor. This will be accomplished by converting abandoned or underutilized railroad corridors into thoroughfares for both cars and pedestrians, as well as transforming Broadway and Greenkill Avenue into streets that can better accommodate bicycle and pedestrian traffic. Schumer and Gillibrand explained that this federal funding, which would come from the Department of Transportation’s TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Grant program, would finally provide the link residents, visitors and businesses have been waiting for to seamlessly access places like the Catskill Mountains and the Walkway over the Hudson.
“The four major regional rail trails surrounding the City of Kingston end at the city’s edge and are frustratingly cut off from streets with car traffic, which is why I am pushing to secure the funding needed to connect them all together and make them more accessible to residents and visitors,” said Senator Schumer. “This funding would make the City of Kingston a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly hub for the entire regional rail trail network by linking them together in the city’s Historic Stockade District. This will not only provide safer alternatives for those walking and biking around the city, or those trying to access the nearby rail trails, it will also help the local economy by connecting travelers to local businesses and attractions in Kingston.”
“This funding is just what the city needs to become more accessible,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Connecting the City of Kingston’s four major rail trails will help the region become more bicycle and pedestrian friendly and better accommodate residents. Making these critical improvements to the trails, sidewalks and streets would give the city an edge up and strengthen Kingston’s local economy and long-term sustainability.”
“The Kingston Connectivity Project will transform the city by providing safe, universally accessible alternatives for moving about by bicycle, on foot, and other non-motorized means while smoothing the flow of motorized vehicles in Uptown and along the Broadway Corridor,” said Gregg Swanzey, Director of the City of Kingston’s Office of Economic Development and Strategic Partnerships. “It will support a significant regional effort to create a rail network that serves as a transportation alternative and recreational amenity of national significance that will be an international draw. It will have a major positive effect on the quality of life and economic vitality of the Midtown area that is economically distressed.”
This funding would also be used to turn streets and rail trail links into ‘Complete Streets’ with wider sidewalks, improved transit facilities, bike lanes, and green infrastructure. In general, complete streets solutions will greatly increase the viability for bicycling and walking in the city. Schumer and Gillibrand explained that this TIGER funding is a perfect fit for the Kingston ‘Greenline’ Connectivity Project because it will support a comprehensive approach that will enable the City of Kingston to implement its existing plans into a fully integrated rail trail network that meets the needs of a broad range of users in the city.
Schumer and Gillibrand further explained that Kingston’s ‘Greenline’ Connectivity Project will invigorate the municipal center, mitigate climate change through reduced automobile use and fossil-fuel emissions, promote pedestrian-friendly development in close proximity to public transit, and provide connections to destinations in the city and region and transportation infrastructure such as ferries and buses for pedestrians and bicyclists. Such transit-oriented development also stimulates tourism and regional economic development.
This multi-modal infrastructure will serve the needs of residents of the city and the region by providing safe, universally accessible alternatives for moving about by bicycle, on foot and other non-motorized means while smoothing the flow of motorized vehicles through the city. It will also support a significant regional effort to create a rail trail network that serves as both a transportation alternative and a center for recreation. Finally, it will have a major positive effect on the quality of life and economic vitality of the Midtown area.
The TIGER Discretionary Grant program provides an opportunity for DOT to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve critical national objectives. In each round of TIGER, DOT receives many applications to build and repair critical pieces of freight and passenger transportation networks.
Copies of Senator Schumer’s and Senator Gillibrand’s letters of support for this project are attached.