Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $112.2 million in funding has been awarded to 81 projects that support bicycle and pedestrian enhancements and improve air quality across New York. Among the projects, the City of Ogdensburg will receive $1,644,800 to extend the existing Maple City Trail across the abandoned rail road trestle bridge, locally known as the Black Bridge.
The City’s Department of Planning and Development prepared the successful grant application last fall and has since been working closely with the County, and adjoining property owners in anticipation of this announcement. City Manager Sarah Purdy refers to this project as a “bright spot” for the community, “an opportunity to improve one of the City’s greatest recreational assets”.
The conversion and use of this abandoned railroad bridge and corridor for pedestrian, bicyclist and other non-motorized transportation users will add 2,400’ to the existing trail and create a loop with the Black River Trail (Maple Traditions) Scenic Byway at State Rt. 812. The rail bridge will connect the existing trail to State Highway 812 through via a series of easements through privately held property adjacent to the bridge. The proposed extension is a recommendation dating back to the 2004 City of Ogdensburg Waterfront Redevelopment Action Plan that has carried through to the more recent 2013 Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP), 2015 Oswegatchie Blueway Trail Plan, and Brownfield Opportunity Area Plan. “It’s a concept that has continued to be of interest to the community over the years, and now with this funding combined with funding awarded as part of the 2016 CFA’s, we will be able to make it a reality” said Director of Planning Andrea L. Smith.
The City has worked closely with St. Lawrence County to acquire title to the railroad bridge since submitting the application. Ogdensburg has also partnered with Clarkson University senior engineering students and Construction Engineering Management Director, Erik Backus to help with the design of this project. “I believe having students engaged in real-world projects greatly enhances the learning experience for soon-to-be practicing intern engineers,” said Backus, who reached out to Smith in the fall after reading about the City’s application to propose the senior design course project. “The idea we agreed upon was for the students to develop a concept design for the trail and rail bridge reuse in order to jumpstart the design process for the eventual real project.” Ms. Smith said the students will be presenting their final design next week, “how timely this award is”.