Albany-Hudson

Electric Trail

About

Welcome to the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail (AHET Trail) website. The AHET Trail will be a shared-use bicycling and pedestrian trail along the 35 mile Albany-Hudson Electric Trolley corridor from Hudson, NY to Rensselaer, NY – running through Rensselaer and Columbia Counties. This website will be periodically updated with plans, reports, meeting dates, project status reports, and other information.

The AHET Trail is an important part of the Empire State Trail, providing a key link between the Capital Region and the Mid-Hudson Valley. The Empire State Trail, when completed in 2020, will create a 750-mile biking and walking trail from New York City to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo.

The Route

The AHET Trail crosses through two counties (Rensselaer and Columbia), eight towns, and five cities and villages. At the northern end, the trail begins near the Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak station, across the river from the state capital in Albany. At the southern end, the City of Hudson provides a trail destination with shops, galleries and restaurants in an historic downtown. Along the route, the trail goes through historic communities in the rural landscape of the Hudson Valley, including orchards, village Main Streets, shops and restaurants, historic sites, and other locations.

The AHET Trail Concept Plan identifies the proposed location of the trail, bridges, roadway crossings and related features. While the goal is to keep as much of the trail off-road as possible, there are areas where the proposed trail route is located on existing roads. Trailheads and key destinations are also identified.

View the entire route below or click on the following sections to see more detailed maps:

Section 1: City of Albany to East Greenbush
Section 2: East Greenbush to Schodack
Section 3: Schodack to Nassau
Section 4: Nassau to Kinderhook
Section 5: Kinderhook
Section 6: Kinderhook to Stockport
Section 7: Stockport to City of Hudson

Click image below to enlarge:

Project Schedule

The Empire State Trail Initiative kicked off in early 2017, and the initiation for the AHET Trail closely followed. The AHET Trail project schedule is outlined below (click to enlarge).

Trail Benefits

Click a benefit below to learn more.

Health and Well-Being
The AHET Trail will improve the health and wellbeing for local resident and visitors as access to outdoor activities increases participation in healthy lifestyles and improves the academic performance of children. Regular exercise reduces the likelihood of heart and respiratory disease. People with access to trails exercise more regularly than those without access to similar recreational opportunities.
Transportation
Trails provide alternatives for getting around for those without access to cars or transit as well as for those wanting to choose a healthier transportation alternative. Construction of the AHET Trail will increase mobility and accessibility by providing a new recreational opportunity.
Safety
Trails provide safer recreational opportunities for all users. They provide a designated space for bicyclists and pedestrians and minimize interactions with motor vehicle traffic. This is especially important for the children.
Economic
The positive economic impacts of trails include recreation-based tourism, an increase in property values, an enhanced ability to attract new employers and employees, and development of new industries, such as visitor services and outdoor related product sales, to accommodate the increase in recreational opportunities in the area.
Education
Not only do trails provide outdoor learning opportunities, but children with access to open space resources demonstrate higher academic achievement, better attendance, and higher levels of concentration. They also provide children with the opportunity to discover local natural and cultural heritage.
Environment
Trails benefit the environment as well as the people they serve. Trails provide opportunities for habitat protection and enhancement, stormwater and flood retention, improved water and air quality, conservation of natural and cultural resources, and scenic views.
Civic Engagement
Greenways provide opportunities for diverse groups of people to discover common interests and form a sense of community. Whether as a means of improving quality of life, our health, our children’s well-being or our natural places, civic leadership springs from community engagement. When neighbors are engaged, employers are enthused, and visitors are attracted, the vitality of a community is boosted.

Frequently Asked Questions

On August 7th, the Hudson Greenway issued a Draft Concept Plan for the AHET project, and held initial public meetings on August 8th and 10th that were attended by more than 350 people. The Greenway received a number of comments at the public meetings, and is accepting written comments via the comment form below.

Responses to some of the most frequently asked questions at the public meetings are provided below. This is an initial review of comments to provide timely response to several key questions. This fall, the Greenway will release a comprehensive, more detailed document that compiles all comments received from the public, and provides responses to all questions.

Stay Informed

How can I stay informed and involved during the AHET planning process? How do I submit comments, concerns, or questions about the project?

The Hudson Greenway is undertaking a variety of public outreach efforts, as the trail siting and construction planning is developed over the next 12 months:

  • Updates will be regularly posted on this website.
  • Additional public meetings will be held over the next six months – information about all future meetings will be posted on the website and emailed to those that have provided email addresses.
  • Greenway staff are available to present information about the AHET Trail at local forums upon request.
  • Comments and questions should be submitted here.

Trail Route and Design

I support the Trail, but note that some sections will follow local roadways. Why can’t the entire trail be off-road?

The Greenway’s goal is to develop the AHET as an off-road trail wherever possible. However, the historic trail corridor is broken in certain places (for example short sections of public roadway have been built on the old rail line in some places, the ROW is cut twice by Interstate I-90, and buildings have been constructed on the old ROW in the cities of Rensselaer and Hudson). In those places, the only available alternative is to route the trail along local roadways.

The AHET Trail crosses a number of public roads. What will be done to assure the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians at road crossings?

The Empire State Trail, in concert with the NYS Department of Transportation, has developed a statewide Design Guide (posted in the Documents section) that captures the most current techniques and approaches for roadway crossings. Each road crossing along the AHET Trail will receive the appropriate treatment to provide pedestrian and bicycle safety, based on vehicle traffic speeds and volumes and the specific crossing configuration.

What is the Empire State Trail Design Guide?

The Hudson Greenway compiled the Empire State Trail Design Guide (posted in the documents section) to provide a comprehensive summary of the current guidelines for developing off-road “shared use paths” and on-road bicycle and pedestrian routes. The Design Guide builds upon bicycle and pedestrian guidelines issued by the American Association for Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), which is the national standard for multi-use trail facilities.

Adjacent Landowners

I am an adjacent property owner to the trail route and have concerns about potential impacts to my property. Who can I speak to?

Greenway staff are happy to respond to questions from adjacent landowners. The best way for property owners to contact the Greenway is through the “submit comments” section on the www.AHETtrail.org website. Greenway staff review each submitted comment, and will send individual responses to specific questions. Greenway staff are also available to meet on-site with adjacent landowners where appropriate to share information and discuss landowner issues (adjacent landowners should include their contact information when submitting comments on the website).

Will having the trail adjacent to property lower my property value?

Many studies, including research conducted by Realtors associations, have found that multi-use trails are an amenity that increases property values and improve the quality of life for nearby residents.

What is the liability of homeowner’s whose property is adjacent to the trail?

Rules will be posted informing trail users to stay on the trail and not enter adjacent property. Trail design features, such as allowing vegetation to grow up establishing a natural boundary, and installing signage or fencing in specific locations where warranted, will reinforce trail behavior. New York State, like most states, has a Recreational Use Statute (General Obligation Law Section 9-103) that protects property owners from liability from hikers, bicyclists, and other trail activities on private property. The general experience of rail-trails across New York State is that users stay on the trails and respect adjacent private property.

What steps will be taken to prevent trail users from entering adjacent private property? Will fencing be installed to ensure my property’s privacy and security?

Based on experiences on other rail-trails, there typically are not significant problems with people leaving the trail and entering private property. Trail users understand that adjacent land is private property, not to be entered without permission. The AHET Trail will include a number of features to reinforce the requirement that users respect private property. Rules emphasizing people are not allowed to enter adjacent property will be posted at trailheads. The trail will be 10-12 feet wide, whereas the National Grid ranges in width from 75 to 150 feet, providing a healthy buffer to private property (and natural vegetation growth will deter users from leaving the trail). Generally speaking, security or privacy fencing will not be installed along the trail corridor. However, in special circumstances the Greenway will consider installing additional signage, fencing, or vegetative plantings where warranted.

Trail Uses and Rules

I currently ride my horse along the right of way. Why does the Greenway propose to prohibit equestrian use? Can this issue be reconsidered?

The Greenway’s proposal to prohibit equestrian use on the AHET Trail stems from conversations with National Grid, which does not authorize horse use along its utility corridors because of safety concerns due to electric poles and guy wires. We will be studying this issue further – however approval could occur only in the event the Greenway and National Grid both determine horse use is safe and appropriate.

Unauthorized ATV use is a significant problem today on the utility ROW. Will developing of the AHET Trail make the problem worse? How will the prohibition of ATVs be enforced on the trail?

The Greenway is aware that illegal use by ATVs and dirt bikes is currently a problem on some sections of the corridor. Based on experience with other rail trails, we anticipate construction of the trail will displace (and not increase) ATV activity. Signage stating that motor vehicles are prohibited will be conspicuously posted – most people will comply, reinforced by social interactions with bicyclists and pedestrians. Law enforcement by state and local agencies will be available if needed to address non-compliance. There are hundreds of miles of rail-trails in New York State – ATV use is generally not a significant problem.

Concern has been raised regarding the possibility of an increase in crimes (i.e. burglaries, assaults, property destruction) near the proposed AHET trail. Have any studies been conducted in heavily populated neighborhoods similar to the neighborhoods to examine this issue?

There are a large number of rail-trails and canalway trails in New York State. The universal experience is that these types of trails quickly become cherished community assets. We are not aware of any increase in crime associated with trails, but the Greenway will further research whether any studies exist.

The Empire Trail Concept Plan refers to rules that will be posted along the trail to seek compliance and facilitate enforcement. Who makes these rules and who will enforce them?

The Greenway will develop written trail use rules that will be posted along the trail, and will seek the local municipalities’ input into the rules. In practice, trail use rules are straightforward (no motorized vehicles, do not enter private property adjacent to the trail, the trail is open dawn to dusk, etc.). The Greenway anticipates adopting a single set of rules for the entire trail (we would not support developing separate rules for the individual towns and villages the trail passes through). County, town, and city law enforcement agencies will be the primary response agencies, with support from New York State agencies if needed. Rail-trails typically do not generate significant law enforcement presence.

Municipal Responsibility

How will the trail be maintained? Our town/county/village may not have the resources to pay for maintenance of the trail – will my municipality need to increase property taxes to cover maintenance costs?

The AHET Trail will be operated and maintained by a collaborative partnership including the Hudson River Valley Greenway, local county, town and village governments, and interested trail groups and volunteers. The Greenway/New York State retains responsibility for long-term “capital maintenance” such as when asphalt and stonedust needs to be resurfaced or safety fencing needs to be replaced (typically once every 15+ years). However, the Greenway does not have staff to conduct regular maintenance, such as mowing a narrow strip of grass along the trail, which will need to be done regularly during the growing season. The Greenway is initiating conversations with local governments regarding trail maintenance agreements. Fortunately, regular maintenance needs are modest, and the fact that the trail crosses through a large number of towns and villages minimizes the impact on any single municipality.

How will law enforcement and emergency services (EMS) be provided on the trail? Will this be a new cost for local governments?

Although state law enforcement agencies will be available to provide strategic assistance, local police and EMS agencies will be the primary responders. Typically, the level of police and EMS responses on rail-trails is low. The Greenway is compiling information on emergency incidents on other rail-trails in NYS, to share with involved agencies along the AHET route.

Do local municipalities with on-road portions have to approve the detailed plan? What is required?

The Hudson Greenway is approaching development of the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail as a partnership with the involved county, town, city, and village local governments. We are committed to planning and building a trail that has the support of involved local elected officials.

The Greenway will request the local municipality’s concurrence for any improvements proposed for roads and property under the municipality’s jurisdiction. Improvements will be designed for each specific road segment and crossing, and may include installation of signage, installation of pavement markings, and/or improvements to roadway shoulders or sidewalks. The Greenway will formally request municipality concurrence after preliminary engineering designs have been developed in the spring of 2018, which will provide the municipality a clear description of the specific road treatments.

Documents

As the project gets updated and related documents get completed, they will be uploaded here for community members to review and provide feedback. Please check back regularly for updates.

Meetings

The first round of public meetings will be conducted in August 2017. The presentation may be viewed by scrolling through the slides below.

Submit Comment

The project is seeking public comment on the Draft AHET Concept Plan. Please provide your email address and comments through the form below. Your comments, observations, and concerns will be incorporated through the public engagement process.