POUGHKEEPSIE - The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Walkway Over the Hudson has announced that construction has begun on a new 21-story steel elevator tower that will connect the elevated Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park to the Poughkeepsie waterfront, further establishing the park as the centerpiece of a world-class network of parks and trails.
"We’re excited that work is getting underway on this new feature of Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park," State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said. "The elevator will help encourage the Walkway’s thousands of visitors to further explore and enjoy the Mid-Hudson Valley’s beautiful network of parks, trails and waterfront."
Walkway Over the Hudson, Executive Director Elizabeth Waldstein-Hart said: "The Walkway Waterfront Elevator is the culmination of many years of working closely with our partners in state, county, and local government. The Waterfront elevator is likely to become a destination unto itself and provide an important nexus between Poughkeepsie’s developing waterfront and our dynamic new trail system connecting Dutchess and Ulster counties with Walkway State Park in the center."
The approximately $2.8 million project will provide a direct connection from the elevated park to the Poughkeepsie waterfront, including Waryas Park and soon-to-be-created Upper Landing Park; facilitate tourism by providing more direct access to the Poughkeepsie train station; and provide easier access for persons with disabilities to the park near the center of the bridge. The project is funded primarily by a $2.4 million federal Transportation Enhancement Program (TEP) grant and other grants secured by the not-for-profit Walkway Over the Hudson friends group.
The 8-foot-by-10-foot stainless steel elevator cab features observation windows on three sides and has a capacity to take up to 15 people on its 1½-minute ride. It is expected to be operational by late fall. The elevator construction contract was awarded to BCI Construction of Albany.
Additionally, the Walkway Over the Hudson friends group is spearheading a waterfront gateway project to improve access, safety, and visitor experience at the entrance way to elevator. The project will create a 400-foot path to the base of the elevator, complete with new fencing and railings, lighting, wayfinding signage, benches and landscaping. The gateway project is moving forward with the assistance of a $400,000 grant through Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Council initiative and support from the Dyson Foundation.
"The waterfront elevator will give more people from all walks of life access to the Walkway State Park and its thrilling views of the Hudson River. It will help lead positive redevelopment efforts currently underway or envisioned for the entire City of Poughkeepsie waterfront," said Diana Gurieva, Executive Vice President, Dyson Foundation.
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said, "Funding for nontraditional transportation projects such as this elevator can greatly enhance economic activity, while enabling people with disabilities to access to the magnificent Walkway over the Hudson. Governor Cuomo has made transportation a priority and it is important that walkways and other pedestrian trails across New York State are accessible for all users, which this federal transportation grant helps ensure."
"We are thrilled to have the Walkway Over the Hudson elevator project underway," said Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro. "This project, along with other components in our Waterfront Redevelopment Strategy including the completion of the Dutchess Rail and its connection to the Walkway, has the ability to transform and revitalize Dutchess County. We look forward to welcoming residents and visitors alike to yet another spectacular venue to enjoy the beauty of Dutchess County along the banks of the Hudson River."
"Walkway Over the Hudson has been a significant boon to Ulster County’s $400 million-plus tourism economy," said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein. "The Dyson Foundation’s generous and visionary support to build the elevator will now connect even more metro-New Yorkers with our extensive and growing rail trail network in Ulster County and the entire region."
"It is heartening to see the Walkway Over the Hudson continue to grow and have a positive impact on the City of Poughkeepsie and surrounding communities," said New York State Senator Terry Gipson (D-Dutchess, Putnam). "This is another great step towards connecting our neighborhoods and business centers to spur our local economy and create jobs."
"Congratulations to the Dyson Foundation, the City of Poughkeepsie, the New York State Parks Office and the Walkway Organization, for working together to provide access to the Walkway for people with disabilities," said Assemblyman Frank Skartados (D-Newburgh). "The unique views of the Hudson River as seen only on the Walkway, is now open for everyone to enjoy."
Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council Co-chairs Dennis Murray, President of Marist College and Leonard S. Schleifer, MD, PhD, President & CEO of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. said, "A key strategy of the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council is to grow the $5 billion a year Hudson Valley tourism industry and we are very pleased with the progress taking place at the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park. Today is a major milestone for the project as work begins on the Walkway Waterfront Elevator, which will give visitors access to the waterfront, letting them share more directly in everything that the park has to offer. On behalf of the Mid-Hudson Regional Council, we are pleased to support this project and our State parks, which have always been a great draw to visitors and locals alike."
A former railroad bridge completed in 1889, Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park opened in 2009 and is visited by over 500,000 people a year. A 2012 study found that spending by Walkway visitors generated nearly $24 million in sales and supported 383 jobs in Dutchess and Ulster counties.