Groups Highlight Social, Environmental, Health, and Economic Benefits of Critical Link between Albany and Rensselaer
Albany, NY —The Livingston Avenue Bridge Coalition and 40 organizations representing thousands of New Yorkers submitted comments to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) today calling for an update of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Empire Service Corridor, the high speed rail program that includes the Capital Region’s Livingston Avenue Bridge. Local, state, and regional organizations ranging from the New York League of Conservation Voters to the Albany Chapter of the NAACP demonstrated their commitment to restoring this critical link in the Capital Region’s bike and pedestrian network when the Livingston Avenue Bridge is rebuilt or replaced as part of the High Speed Rail Empire Corridor Program.
“Despite the research and foundation of support from the community at large, the lengthy DEIS makes no mention of the replacement Livingston Avenue Bridge’s potential walkway. Advocates are asking NYSDOT to incorporate findings of the existing transportation and land-use studies and plans relating to the Livingston Avenue Bridge and walkway, hear out the community and municipal supporters for the walkway, and conduct a Title VI and Environmental Justice Analysis of the scenarios, specifically identifying potential mitigation measures for Environmental Justice Areas surrounding the Livingston Avenue Bridge,” said Livingston Avenue Bridge Coalition founder Martin Daley.
“There is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebuild the Livingston Avenue Bridge with a bike and pedestrian walkway that must not be missed,” says Nadine Lemmon, Albany Legislative Advocate, with the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
Josh Wilson, Executive Director of the New York Bicycling Coalition, adds, “For nearly a century a walkway on the Livingston Avenue Bridge made it possible for people to easily and safely cross the Hudson between Albany and Rensselaer on foot or by bike. This is our chance to restore a critical connection between these two communities.”
The current Livingston Avenue Bridge was constructed in 1902 with a pedestrian walkway that provided safe and simple access to both sides of the Hudson River. The Walkway, having suffered from years of neglect, was closed decades ago, but advocates across New York State see the clear social, environmental, health, and economic benefits of reestablishing the connection.
The Livingston Avenue Bridge offers an extraordinary opportunity to better integrate New York’s rail system with the state’s expanding network of multi-use trails, not only contributing to a multi-modal transportation system but promoting trail-related tourism,” says Robin Dropkin, Executive Director of Parks & Trails New York.
Peter Fleischer, Executive Director of Empire State Future, adds, “We urge that the Livingston Avenue Bridge be reconstructed in such a way so as to include pedestrian, wheelchair, and bicycle access. The state’s Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Policy Act encourages this, public health concerns would benefit, and community development would be enhanced.”
The Walkway has the support of seven Albany neighborhood associations, as well as the Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations (CANA). “A Walkway on the Livingston Avenue Bridge is consistent with our vision to support Albany in its development as an urban center with a focus on the highest possible quality of life,” says Howard Stoller, CANA chair.
Both Albany County and the City’s Common Council passed resolutions of support of the re-establishment of the walkway and highlighted the benefits of restored access in several state and federally funded plans including the Albany 2030 Comprehensive Plan (2011), Albany Master Bike Plan (2009), and the Patroon Creek Greenway Plan (2004).
The Walkway has also received significant support from Rensselaer County and the City of Rensselaer – both passed resolutions of support. Local planning studies that acknowledge the Walkway include the City of Rensselaer Local Waterfront Revitalization Program Update (2011) and the Rensselaer County Trail from the Livingston Ave. Bridge to the Troy-Menands Bridge (2004).
Co-signers on the NYSDOT Comment Letter and in support of the Livingston Avenue Walkway:
Livingston Avenue Bridge Coalition
Parks & Trails New York
Tri-State Transportation Committee
New York Bicycling Coalition
Capital District Community Gardens
Empire State Future
New York League of Conservation Voters
NAACP, Albany Branch
Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy
Save the Pine Bush
Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations
Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association
Pine Hills Neighborhood Association
Center Square Neighborhood Association
Delaware Avenue Neighborhood Association
Arbor Hill Neighborhood Association
South End Neighborhood Association
Hudson Park Neighborhood Association
New York State Transportation Equity Alliance
Champlain Canalway Trail Working Group
South End Improvement Corporation
The Free School
Albany Community Land Trust
Mohawk-Hudson Cycling Club
Grand Street Community Arts
Albany Kayak Club
Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region
Friends of the Rail Trail
Canalway Trails Association New York
Collar City Ramble
Albany Bicycle Coalition
Utica Bike Rescue
Long Island Greenways and Trails
Troy Bike Rescue
Crailo State Historic Site
Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site
Community Development Alliance of the Capital Region
UAlbany Students for Sustainability
Reclaim Our Waterfront