Numerous state and local officials gathered with partners from the business and nonprofit communities of the Hudson Valley for the long-awaited opening of the $5.4 million Ulster Welcome Center at the western gateway to Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park on Friday, June 29th.
The 3,500-square-foot visitor center and plaza in the Town of Lloyd features:
- New plaza and amphitheater seating for special events and programs for hundreds of people;
- Covered 1,400-square-foot patio;
- Improved visitor circulation, including new and improved signage, enhanced landscaping, bus drop-off location to provide easier access, and upgraded and environmentally friendly pathways that will improve connections for those entering and exiting the park; and
- Concession stand and public restrooms.
The new facility utilizes the latest energy efficient measures, including LED lighting, insulated building shells, and modern heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment, powered by solar panels.
Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park stands 212 feet above the river’s surface and is more than 6,700 feet (1.28 miles) long, making it the longest, elevated pedestrian bridge in the world. The park attracts nearly 600,000 visitors annually, providing access to the Hudson River’s breathtaking landscape for pedestrians, hikers, joggers, bicyclists, and people with disabilities. The Walkway is open daily from 7 am to sunset.
The project complements Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Trail initiative, a planned 750-mile bicycle and walking path linking new and existing regional trails from New York City to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo.
The Walkway is a major link in the Empire State Trail, connecting the Hudson Valley Rail Trail with the Dutchess Rail Trail. The Town of Lloyd and Ulster County are extending the Hudson Valley Rail Trail another two miles further west. This project, which is currently under construction and will be completed by this fall, will result in the trail terminating on Route 299.
The state plans to break ground this fall another 2 miles of trail along Route 299 to New Paltz along with an additional two miles of on-road improvements to link to pathway to the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail in downtown New Paltz. In addition, new Empire State Trail wayfinding signage has been installed on the Walkway.
To complete the Empire Trail by 2020, approximately 350 miles of new/improved trails will need to be built. It’s hoped that 70 percent of the 750-mile trail will be off road.
Photo of The official ribbon-cutting for the grand opening of the Ulster Welcome Center on the Walkway Over the Hudson courtesy Irving Solero.