City gets $1.4M to lengthen trail
BY STEVE JONES
The City of Rome is getting $1.4 million to construct the second phase of the Mohawk River Trail, extending it further north. The state announced the funding Wednesday afternoon as part of $112.2 million in funding that has been awarded to 81 projects that support bicycle and pedestrian enhancements and improve air quality across New York.
The portion of the trail that is already completed and open runs from Bellamy Harbor Park north to the bridge where Chestnut Street becomes Mohawk Drive at the Griffiss Business and Technology Park. The second phase will continue the trail from there further north along the river’s east side near the intersection of Black River Boulevard and Wright Settlement Road.
The trail will eventually reach all the way to Delta Dam, plans show, but current funding limitations require that it be divided up into at least three phases.
The work is expected to take place next year.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the funding, which supports projects that include multi-use bicycle and pedestrian facilities, new accessible sidewalks that adhere to regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, improved access to public transportation and enhanced roadway safety.
“This funding is critical to enhancing our infrastructure and paving the way for both pedestrian and bicycle travel,” Gov. Cuomo said. “By improving roadway safety and increasing access to healthy transportation alternatives, we are providing both residents and visitors a chance to experience the state’s natural beauty like never before, while supporting a cleaner, greener New York for generations to come.”
The funding, which will provide up to 80 percent of the cost of each project, is made available through the Federal Highway Administration and administered by the state Department of Transportation. Selected through a competitive solicitation process, awardees presented plans that will increase options for non-vehicular transportation, reduce vehicle emissions or traffic congestion, or both. Including additional public and private funding, these projects will leverage nearly $233 million in construction and operational enhancements that will improve air quality, promote walking and biking, expand public transportation access, and boost tourism across the state.
“This massive federal investment will help New York State make important upgrades for pedestrians and bicyclists and, in turn, encourage New Yorkers to travel more by bike or by foot. Increased biking and walking is good for our collective hearts and lungs; it also reduces congestion and helps boost the economy. These transportation improvements demonstrate the types of important local projects that can only be accomplished with direct public investment,” said U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-NY.
The grant requires a 20 percent match from the city. That will come from the $350,000 in bonding adopted by the Common Council on July 13, 2016. That money will cover the design. The grant will cover the construction.
Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo said today: “It’s fantastic news. We’re going to be able to extend the trail system.” The initial plan was to obtain the funding through the Consolidated Funding Application, but it was not approved that way. But the state looked for and found a new way to grant the request.
Izzo noted that this project is the only one to get any of this money in the Mohawk Valley. “This bodes well for the state looking at our trail system. We’ve done a lot and it’s been a real winner,” she said.
The mayor said the extension will help the area along the boulevard. “You’re taking the trail system in front of commercial businesses. People may plan to stop for lunch or get a snack on that part of the trail,” she said.