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Dutchess Rail Trail south

Memorial Day 2011

05-29-11 Sunday – Dutchess Rail Trail phase 3 and 1

I did not find out about the ribbon cutting ceremony for this newest,and longest,section of the rail trail until a few days before the Memorial day weekend.The ceremony would be at 10:00 AM on Thursday 05-21.I had prior commitments for that day and so I would not be able to attend.At least this time I knew when this section was oficialy open to the public.The last few weeks of May (and now the first week of June) have been very July-August like weather wise,with high humidity and a daytime high temperature of near 90 degrees and afternoon thunder storms (or at least the threat of thunder storms) Sunday during the Memorial Day weekend looked to be the best day out of the 3.I would ride out to the northern end of this new section at Manchester Rd. behind Page Lumber in the town of Poughkeepsie to ride the new section,and the existing phase 1 section.

This new section goes from the town of Poughkeepsie to the northern end of the original 2007 phase 1 Walton Lake section,in the town of East Fishkill,and also includes that 1/2 mile ‘tail end’ section to the old depot,and a tad beyond,in Hopewell Jct.This creates a contiguous 8 1/2 miles (aproximately) of rail trail.I would ride the entire length to mile marker 0.0 in Hopewell Jct.,the southern terminus/trailhead for the entire rail trail.It would seem the word had goten out that this new section was open.The small parking lot was full and there were cars parked in the unfinished area,at the end of the paved trail,where one of the supports for the new yet-to-be-built bridge over SR 55,during phase 4 construction in 2012,will be.This new section,as will the entire rail trail,includes green directional/mileage signs at the intersections,new wood engraved mileage markers and educational interpretive signs.I had already seen the new green intersection signs on the phase 2 section here in Poughkeepsie before this new section was completed and open to the public.I had just started my southward journey on the trail,after taking some photos near the Manchester Rd. parking lot,when I encountered one of those green directional/mileage signs.The sign had indicated the new side trail I had seen in April, was the “Old Manchester” trail.I had noted the bridge over Titusville Road (CR 49) had been paved.In April I had thought the wood base for this,and all the other overpass bridges,was to make the bridges more Equine friendly.I had also thought the soft section of the trail was ostensibly for Equestrian use like the
Hudson Valley RT (the original phase 1 1997 section).It would seem I may have been wrong in regards to Equestrian use on this rail trail,or perhaps there has been a change from the original 2006 plans.The site trail description idicates no Equestrian use on this rail trail.This southern section of the trail does pass by a number of horse farms though,and the 2006 trail design diagram for the phase 1 section,seem to indicate Equestrian useage.However,I did not see any NO HORSES signs.

diagram of trail design for phase 1 from the 2006 Dutchess RT site – note horse and rider

I was somewhat surprised there was no parking lot at Titusville Rd.I would have thought at least a portion of that huge area, at this intersection,that was being used as a construction storage-parking lot,would have been made into a large trail parking lot.However,there is a trail access to the Gold’s Gym parking lot.This is actualy listed as the official parking for the RT at this intersection.The finished,paved,grade up to the overpass was now a tad better than the unfinished,and unpaved,hill-from-hell 10% grade I encountered in April.The overpass grades are now downgraded from a HFH category to just an intermediate hill of 7% grade.There has been an amenities program for the trail in place for over a year.One of the benches along the trail was donated by the local bicycle club,the Mid Hudson Bicycle Club.I stoped to read,and take a picture of,one of those new educational interpretive signs.This one was about trains and communications.As I continued south,I passed by another educational sign to my left.This one seemed to be about local wildlife.On future rides,I will get to read all of the educational signs.

The Diddell Rd. crossing (the “missing bridge”) was much better graded than in April.An S curve was added with the road crossing offset from the centerline of the trail/ROW.I was surprised to see a parking lot on the south side of the intersection.There was also a kiosk with a new trail map.I had noted there were construction vehicles in the un-paved (or yet-to-be paved) small lot.As with phase 2 when that section opened in June 2009,even though it was officialy open to the public,it was still under construction.There was another educational interpretive sign.This one was about the stations along the old Maybrook line in Dutchess county.The next 1 mile of the trail is the designated “Veterans Mile”.The memorial plaques etc.,were not in place yet and so was not ready for dedication on Memorial Day.The DC trails site now indicates that the dedication will be during the July 4th weekend.

I continued south to the north end of phase 1,(Walton Lake) the first section to open in 2007.As I had thought when I was there in April,the small ad-hoc parking lot would remain closed and would become part of the actual trail.When I was there last year,I had thought,at the time,this,now former,parking lot at the intersection with Walton Lake Rd.,looked kind of temporary.As it turned out,this little ad hoc parking area would become “temporarily permanent” for 4 years.I passed the new wood HJ 2.0 mileage marker to my left and just when I had thought “they replaced the old green metal mileage markers” (motor vehicle roadway type) I encountered the old HJ 2.0 mileage marker a bit south of the new HJ 2.0 marker.There clearly was quite a discrepency between the 2 markers.On this ride,I would get the chance to see the full extent of the housing development construction near the south end of this section.The construction now extends on both sides of the trail with a new road crossing the trail.I dont know if this at grade road crossing is just a temporary road for construction,or if the permanent road,for the housing development,will be above grade.I also don’t know at this point if there will be access to the trail from the housing development.My thinking,given the lack of vision on the part of the so called “planners” here in Dutchess county is, there will not be any direct access to the trail at this yet-to-be intersection.At the Bridge Street intersection in Hopewell Junction,the south end of phase 1,there was now a newley competed trail extending to the depot and old rail yard area.In July of 2010,there was a “TRAIL CLOSED” sign and the old ROW still with the old balast.The depot restoration was well underway with scafolding at one end and a new roof.The shingles for the roof had yet to be put in place.Once at the depot area I was able to understand the mileage discrepency between the old mileage markers and the new markers.As a result of the disputed property ownership between Metro North RR and Dutchess county,the rail trail now ends in a “comma” at the end of a side steet instead of a “period” at the Metro North gate as was per the original 2006 plans.At the end of the wood rail fencing, and the start of the curve to the side street,there is a high “Metro North style” chain-link fence.There was a paved and finished parking lot a bit west of the depot and there was an unpaved (or yet-to-be paved) lot adjacent to the depot.There were several heavy construction machines in this lot.There was no fencing or gate restricting access (at least not yet on this day) on the depot side and I was able to easily ride the dirt road up to where the old MNRR gate is.The gate was open and odly,the “NO TRESPASSING” sign had been spray painted over.

I had just taken a picture of my bicycle at the 0.0 mileage marker and had goten as far north as the depot when I had realized my front tire was going flat.The picnic table at the depot would make for a good work area.I was carying a brand new spare tube in one of the rear panniers (yes,even on a day ride I have panniers) and would use that rather than patch the old tube.That was the plan.I pumped and pumped but the new tube did not seem to be taking air.I fiddled with the pump for a while before realizing the unthinkable had happened,the new tube was bad.I saw a distressed area on the old tube and put a self-stick patch over this area.The old tube,with the patch,held air just fine.Aparently,I must have had something in the pannier that poked through the end flap of the tube carton,without being noticed,and punctured the tube.At the SR 376 overpass,I exited the rail trail for a much needed break at the nearby McDonald’s.After a much deserved cool and tasty desert,I continued north on the trail homeward bound.

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