Ulster County weighing rail trail options

In October, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein proposed developing a rail trail along a section of the former Ulster & Delaware (U & D) Railroad between the City of Kingston and the Ashokan Reservoir. The corridor is currently owned by the county and leased to the Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR). Under the county’s plan, the scenic railroad would continue operating between Boiceville and Phoenicia and a trail would be built parallel to the rail line. Other sections of the corridor would be developed as either a multi-use or hiking trail.

Several years ago a rail with trail feasibility study suggested the possibility of a side by side facility along the entire ROW, a concept supported by CMRR. Parks & Trails New York and many other organizations feel that the rail with trail option would be difficult and extremely expensive to achieve along the entire corridor due to physical constraints such as steep slopes and several bridge crossings and the high cost to engineer and construct new accessible trail at several locations. PTNY also believes that developing the complete rail with trail option, which might include on-road sections, will not attract the number of users and tourism dollars as the continuous rail trail only option. Read more in our letter to the County Legislature.

Last night the Legislature heard comments from the public on the Rail Trail proposal, despite the fact there were no resolutions on the evening’s agenda relating to the trail. Speakers at the meeting included representatives from the Catskill Mountain Railroad, various neighbors within Kingston, concerned citizens, and friends of the Catskill Mountain Rail Trail. There still seems to be uncertainty about the feasibility of side-by-side facilities.

The U&D line was identified by the Kingston Land Trust’s trails committee as one of several potential rail trail connections into the City of Kingston.  Parks & Trails New York is currently working with the Kingston Land Trust  to develop multiple trail connections to and within Kingston through our Healthy Trails Healthy People program.

The Kingston Land Trust Rail Trail Committee is organizing a cleanup of the Kingston Point Rail Trail as part of Kingston Clean Sweep presented by the Friends of Historic Kingston and Kingston Parks and Recreation Department on Saturday, April 20 at 9am. Volunteers are asked to meet in the parking lot behind Rondout Savings Bank, 300 Broadway, in Kingston at 8:30am to sign-in.

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3 Responses to Ulster County weighing rail trail options

  1. Russ Nelson says:

    I’m opposed to destroying the Catskill Mountain Railroad to create a trail. Once we go down this road, we trail advocates become the enemy of all railroads everywhere, and we should expect no cooperation from them. This trail is a BAD IDEA, and I’d like to see P&TNY stay far away from it. Let the local trail advocates lose this battle.

    • Steve Porter says:

      Thank you Russ. I agree with you completely and on many levels that time prevents us from discussion here.

      • russnelson says:

        Thanks for your response. Of course, the same goes for the Adirondack Scenic Railway and the people trying to destroy it (some of whom would work to create a trail). You need to pick and choose your battles, and this is one to choose not to pick.

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