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State to fund improvements for trails

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during his 2014 State of the State address Wednesday, Jan. 8.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during his 2014 State of the State address Wednesday, Jan. 8.

— Projects targeted to improve infrastructure will receive state funding in Clinton and Franklin counties.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week announced $67 million in funding for bicycle, pedestrian and multi-use enhancement projects throughout the state of New York. Three North Country projects received funding, including $761,600 to the Village of Saranac Lake and $1,626,000 to the City of Plattsburgh.

“We are modernizing New York State’s transportation system while making it safer,” Cuomo said. “We will continue to upgrade New York’s infrastructure to expand tourism and economic development while improving our communities.”

Funding for the projects is coming from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and are administered by NYSDOT. The funds cover 80 percent of the cost of each project, with the remaining 20 percent coming from the project sponsor.

The projects are required to address a number of concerns, including providing facilities for bicycles and pedestrians; scenic or historic highway programs; landscaping and other beautification initiatives; preservation of abandoned railway corridors, including their conversion and use as pedestrian and bicycle trails; and environmental mitigation to address water pollution due to highway runoff or reducing vehicle-caused wildlife mortality.

In Saranac Lake, the funding will go toward improvements to sidewalk conditions along Lake Flower Avenue (NYS Route 86)through a series of projects aimed a improving the condition of the infrastructure. The work, which is expected to start in the new construction season, is part of an overall plan to upgrade conditions along the state highway.

Plattsburgh will use its funding to implement phase two of the Saranac River Trail Project.

Currently, the Saranac River Trail runs from the Saranac Street Bridge to George Angell Drive near Plattsburgh High School. With the funding, the city plans to run the trail across the Saranac Street Bridge, around the NYSEG site, across a new pedestrian signature bridge at Durkee Street, then along the street to City Hall and MacDonough Park. They will also connect the Stafford Middle School to the trail with an extension along the Saranac River behind the police station and across Pine Street.

Overall, plans are for the trail to provide a connection from Lake Champlain in the east to the town of Saranac, spanning a distance of over 20 miles.

“The Saranac River Trail does more than provide alternative options for transportation,” Mayor Jim Calnon said. “It improves our quality of life here in Plattsburgh and encourages tourism and economic development opportunities in the downtown business district and across the region.”

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