Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $5.5 million in projects to construct new energy efficient gateway visitor centers to adorn both the east and west entrances of the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park. Both gateways will feature new services and modern facilities designed to enhance aesthetics, visitor experience and overall function. The projects are part of Governor Cuomo’s NY Parks 2020 initiative, a multi-year commitment to improving and expanding access to outdoor recreation by leveraging $900 million in private and public funding through 2020.
“The natural beauty found in our state parks is unparalleled and we’re investing additional resources to help ensure visitors stay longer, explore more of what they have to offer, and bring more tourism dollars into local economies,” Governor Cuomo said. “The Walkway Over the Hudson project will do just that by better connecting residents and visitors to the Hudson Valley’s history, culture and recreational opportunities. I encourage everyone to visit this park and experience this unique and unrivaled view for themselves.”
On the East approach of the Walkway, $2.5 million in state funding will support the construction of a visitor center gateway located in the City of Poughkeepsie. It will feature food vendors, open and covered outdoor seating, a dog friendly water fountain, bike racks, relocated signage, landscaping, and new restrooms. New York State will commit $1 million towards the project, while the remaining $1.5 million will be raised by the not-for-profit Walkway Over the Hudson friends group.
The $3 million sustainable West approach visitor center gateway in the Town of Lloyd will feature both open and covered outdoor seating and be powered by an array of solar panels . It will also provide new concessions, amphitheater seating for relaxing and special events, new and improved signage, enhanced landscaping, bus drop-off location to provide easier access, upgraded and environmentally friendly pathways that will improve connections for those entering and exiting the park and new restrooms.
Both facilities will utilize energy efficient measures including LED lighting, insulated building shells, and modern heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment. Construction on both facilities will begin in 2017.
State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, "We're excited to soon provide a true welcoming experience and gathering place at both entrances to the Walkway for the hundreds of thousands that visit the Walkway every year. These new gateways are yet another feat in Governor Cuomo’s effort to promote tourism and outdoor recreation in the Mid-Hudson Valley and its connection to the Dutchess Rail Trail, Hudson Valley Rail Trail and both the city of Poughkeepsie and Town of Lloyd communities. A special thank you to the not-for-profit Walkway Over the Hudson friends group for their leadership in helping to realize this long-awaited vision.”
Walkway Executive Director Elizabeth Waldstein-Hart said, "We are extremely grateful to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Commissioner Rose Harvey, and New York State for investing significant resources in Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park. In the short time since it opened in 2009, Walkway State Park has contributed greatly to the resurgence of the City of Poughkeepsie and helped make the Mid-Hudson Valley a destination for international tourism. These investments in improving visitor comfort and access at the Park's two main entrance ways in Dutchess and Ulster counties represent the state's firm commitment to improving our economy and culture."
Senator Sue Serino said, "The historic Walkway Over the Hudson is a true gem, attracting visitors to our community from around the world. It plays a vital role in our local tourism economy and investing in the new gateways at both its ends is symbolic, sending a strong message that the state stands ready to continue to promote tourism in our area and further strengthen our region. We thank the Governor for his commitment to ensuring that the Hudson Valley continues to build on its long tradition of being a world-class destination."
Senator George Amedore said, "The Walkway Over the Hudson is a world-class destination that attracts visitors from near and far to enjoy the natural beauty of the Hudson Valley. The investments announced by Governor Cuomo today will further enhance the experience and continue our efforts to boost tourism and economic growth throughout the region."
Assemblyman Frank Skartados said, “The new Gateway Visitor Centers exemplify Governor Cuomo’s vision of revitalizing New York State Parks. These significant investments to the entrances at Walkway Over the Hudson will provide visitors with new services and modern facilities that will be key in boosting tourism and spurring economic growth in the Hudson Valley. I want to thank to the Governor for his leadership in helping this project get off the ground and for his steadfast commitment to helping our region reach its full potential."
Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro said, "The Hudson Valley is a world-class destination for residents and visitors looking to experience the natural beauty of the Hudson River and its surrounding areas, and the Walkway over the Hudson has been a remarkable attraction in our tourism industry. This investment will ensure it remains a vital economic asset for the region. I thank the Governor, Senators Serino and Amedore and our Assembly Members for their shared commitment to promoting this region's natural beauty. I am excited to see this project move forward."
Ulster County Executive Mike Hein said, "We are thrilled to see an expansion of the walkway facilities. In Ulster County we are committed to creating a world-class rail trail system that connects the Walkway over the Hudson to the Ashokan reservoir. Today's announcement further establishes the Hudson Valley as an incredible, easily accessible, four season tourism destination."
City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison said, “The Walkway Over the Hudson is already a tremendous asset for Poughkeepsie in terms of tourism and by enhancing the experience of all those looking to enjoy the scenic views of the Hudson Valley, its value will only continue to grow. Now, the hundreds of thousands of people who visit this site every year will have the modern facilities and services they have come to expect. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for not only recognizing how important this new facility is to our city, but for the leadership he has demonstrated in making it a reality.”
Town of Lloyd Supervisor Paul Hansut said, “There is nothing more beautiful than the view while crossing the Walkway Over the Hudson and because of the new gateway visitor center, even more people will visit Lloyd to experience the Hudson Valley. This boost in tourism will ripple through the rest of our economy as visitors spend time in Lloyd and see first-hand what else our community has to offer. All the thanks goes to Governor Cuomo because without his hard work, none of this would have been possible.”
Rob Dyson, Chairman of the Dyson Foundation said, “Walkway Over the Hudson State Park was built because of a dynamic public-private partnership that overcame differences and worked together to accomplish a great outcome. Thanks to the leadership of Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Rose Harvey the spirit of partnership that built the Walkway is alive and well today. The state’s willingness to build new gateway visitor centers at Walkway State Park demonstrates a keen understanding that investments in this park and other parks across New York are sound investments in expanding our tourist economy and helping the Mid Hudson Region grow in a way we can all appreciate.”
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 provides access to the Hudson River's breathtaking landscape for pedestrians, hikers, joggers, bicyclists, and people with disabilities and connects to both the Dutchess Rail Trail and Hudson Valley Rail Trail. The park offers interpretive signs and a Talkway Over the Walkway cell phone tour.
The Walkway Marathon Race Series returns for its second year on Sunday, June 12. Join 2,500 runners in the 5K, half- or full-marathon, all while marveling at the beauty of the Walkway and the Hudson Valley. Space is limited, check www.walkwaymarathon.org for availability.
In 2014 the Walkway waterfront elevator opened and has since provided a direct connection from the elevated park to the Hudson River shoreline, including Waryas Park and the new Upper Landing Park. The elevator has helped facilitate tourism by providing more direct access to the Poughkeepsie train station; and provides easier access for persons with disabilities to the park near the center of the bridge.
New York State is improving and expanding access to outdoor recreation. The Governor’s NY Parks 2020 is a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding through 2020. This year New York State is providing free entry for 4th grade students and their families to all state parks and historic sites through acceptance of the National Park Service’s “Every-Kid-in-a-Park” Pass. This summer a new program will be implemented and provide free/low-cost transportation grants to allow students from Title 1 schools to experience state parks and historic sites.