The Village of Green Island, in Albany County, has been recommended to receive $444,000 in funding for the Black Bridge Rail Trail Connection Project. Capital District Transportation Committee’s (CDTC) Planning Committee added the project to its 2013-2018 Transportation Improvement Program on June 5.
The Black Bridge project addresses a gap in the Erie Canalway Trail, as identified in Parks & Trail New York’s Closing the Gaps Progress Report. Overall, the report details 83 miles of gaps, areas where cyclists and pedestrians do not have access to an off-road, multi-use trail. Green Island sits in the middle of the Cohoes-Green Island-Watervliet trail gap, a five mile stretch that separates elements of the Erie Canalway Trail in Niskayuna and Colonie with the Canalway Trail’s eastern terminus at Albany’s Corning Preserve.
The Black Bridge project involves re-purposing of an abandoned c. 1890 railroad bridge to support a pedestrian and cycling trail crossing of the Mohawk River, linking Green Island with the City of Cohoes and Van Shaick Island. The Black Bridge safely moves cyclists and walkers onto the existing, off-road Delaware Avenue Trail on Van Shaick Island, allowing access to the local golf course and other recreational facilities, as well as to the Van Shaick Mansion, a building that served as a headquarters building in the Revolutionary War.
Previous phases of the Black Bridge project have awarded funding to the City of Cohoes for engineering on its portion of the connection, and for rehabilitation of the bridge structure itself. The current round of funding from the TIP will be used to improve the environment for pedestrians and cyclists on an abandoned stretch of road and railway that serves as the approach to the Bridge. A 1,000 ft. paved multi-use trail will be installed, connecting Cannon Drive with the Black Bridge, as well as another 1,000 ft. of new sidewalks on Cannon Drive itself. Details on the current phase are available via a CDTC TIP Fact Sheet.
The Black Bridge project has regional significance, as it provides an alternate connection from Green Island to the Mohawk-Hudson portion of the Erie Canalway Trail that bypasses the crossing of Route 787. This linkage also serves cyclists and pedestrians wishing to access the Champlain Bike Hike Trail and Peebles Island State Park from the Mohawk Hudson/Erie Canalway Trail or from Albany’s waterfront trail system.
Parks & Trails New York supports Green Island in its current effort to improve this connection, and has supported past phases of the Black Bridge connection. PTNY also continues to advocate for Closing the Gaps in the Erie Canalway Trail network.