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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 25, 2008

Breslin signs rail trail deal

By Jo E. Prout

ALBANY COUNTY — Albany County Executive Michael G. Breslin signed a contract this month to purchase the long-awaited Albany County Rail Trail from Canadian Pacific Railway.

The trail will run from the Port of Albany, partially through the town of Bethlehem, and end in the town of New Scotland in the village of Voorheesville.

The non-profit organization Scenic Hudson and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation each contributed $350,000, meeting the sale price of $700,000.

Environmental assessments of the rail trail have already begun, according to Breslin’s office. After a 300-day due diligence period, environmental liability for the trail will be assumed by the county, said Kerri Battle, the director of communications for the county executive, in August.

This week, Battle said that the assessments began Dec. 12. Bridges along the trail are being inspected now, she said, and the results could dictate how soon the trail would be open to the public.

“We are aiming for the end of 2010,” she said.

Engineering firm Greenman-Pedersen, Inc., with headquarters on Long Island and an office in Albany, is doing the assessment, Battle said.

Patrick Kenneally, a vice-president with GPI, said that the firm has had an office in Albany for 30 years.

“All of our Capital District work is done in our Albany office,” Kenneally said. “We’re happy to be doing it.”

Traffic signs and diversions for the eight bridges in the rail trail are in place, he said, and the inspectors are trying to dodge the wintry weather.

Albany County Legislator Herbert Reilly Jr. represents New Scotland and was a principal sponsor of the program five years ago, he said in August. Reilly said that the legislature has money set aside to do improvements like adding guide rails where the rail had run over a creek. Highway crossings already have guide rails, he said. The county will put in a 10-foot-wide strip of leveled and graded crushed stone — a surface that would be good for a runner’s ankle, he said.

The county cost will be $2.9 million, which will be used to refurbish the trail, according to Albany County Legislator William Aylward, who represents Guilderland. Aylward and Reilly are members of the legislature’s conservation and improvement committee. Of that, $2.4 million will be federal funds and interested groups will raise the remaining $500,000, Aylward said in August.

“We thought it would be a tremendous asset to the county and the town [of New Scotland], and now for Bethlehem, too,” Reilly said then.

Since 1995, when Reilly was supervisor for the town of New Scotland, the project has been negotiated and altered several times. Originally, he said, the proposal included the rail from Albany to its end in Delanson. Now, Canadian Pacific Railway, which owns the line, will keep the spur from Voorheesville to Delanson, Reilly said.

Reilly told The Enterprise in August that he had ridden on the line.

“It’s a very scenic route. Oh, my goodness, it’s gorgeous,” he said then. “You see a different perspective on the world. People will enjoy it.”

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