The City of Cohoes retained Albany engineering firm Barton & Loguidice to begin the design for the rehabilitation to convert the Delaware & Hudson Railroad Bridge (the "Black Bridge") into a scenic bicycle and pedestrian rail-to-trail crossing between Van Schaick Island and Green Island. This project is part of a larger connector trail linkage planned from the Mohawk Hudson Bike-Hike Trail to Peebles Island and the Lake Champlain Bikeways network.
Edward Tremblay, Director of the City of Cohoes Office of Community and Economic Development, is excited about the trail connector possibilities. "This linkage will give the residents of Cohoes, Green Island and beyond a new recreation opportunity and the ability to get to Peebles Island by bike or by foot without having to cross Route 787 multiple times, which they currently have to do. We are looking forward to being able to reuse this bridge in a manner that benefits our community."
New trail sections connecting from Peebles Island State Park and south to Admirals Walk on Delaware Avenue will be completed this year. The Delaware Avenue trail will then connect to the Mohawk Hudson Trail in Green Island via this bridge.
The bridge borders the Van Schaick golf course and will provide recreational access to Van Schaick Mansion at the intersection of Van Schaick Avenue and Delaware Avenue in Cohoes, a mid 1700’s Revolutionary War headquarters currently owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Bike racks and informational kiosks will embellish the bridge entrances, and the trail will provide the long missing connector between the Mohawk and Hudson Bike Trail and the Champlain Canal Bike Trail.
Funding for the bridge project, will come from the NYS Department of Transportation's Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), and is anticipated to total approximately $600,000. The Delaware Avenue Trail is being funded by two grants that are being administered by the New York State Office of Parks and Recreation. Those grants are provided by the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Fund and total over $300,000. In addition around $300,000 of match funding is a result of private money from developers along that Hudson and Mohawk River. Any remaining funds will be less than 5% of the project and will be funded by the City of Cohoes.
This 1890s bridge provided rail access from Green Island to Cohoes and then on to the Town of Waterford up until the late 1960s when it was taken out of commission. Originally owned by the Delaware & Hudson Railroad, the bridge and surrounding land were purchased by Open Space Institute (OSI) for the purpose of preserving this historical bridge site while developing the rail-to-trail connector. Upon completion of the bridge rehabilitation project, the OSI will deed the bridge to the City of Cohoes.
Original architectural drawings of the bridge have been destroyed in a fire, so Barton & Loguidice will be recreating the drawings before designing the rehabilitation. Details about the bridge will be gathered from top to bottom, including an underwater investigation of the submerged bridge components. This will serve multiple purposes, including establishment of current conditions, a baseline for future inspection recommendations, maintenance needs, and the re-establishment of record information on the structure.