Scenic Hudson Applauds Amtrak’s Plan to Withdraw Fencing Proposal

Friday, January 18, 2019 -- Scenic Hudson
Contact: 

J. Jeffrey Anzevino, Land Use Advocacy Director
845 473 4440, ext. 221; janzevino@scenichudson.org

Amtrak states its commitment to work with impacted communities to develop new plan

HUDSON VALLEY—Scenic Hudson commends Amtrak for announcing today that it has withdrawn a plan to erect 8,200 feet of fencing at locations along the Empire Corridor between Rhinecliff and Stuyvesant that would have eliminated public access to the Hudson River.

Amtrak’s statement makes clear that it is not abandoning the plan, but that it will incorporate this proposal into a larger plan encompassing the entire Hudson Line Corridor from just north of Poughkeepsie to just west of Schenectady. The announcement also states that Amtrak “will continue to work with the affected communities, Town Officials and State agencies on formatting the revised plan,” and that it will host public informational meetings prior to formulating the plan.

Amtrak’s final plan must be deemed “consistent” with the New York Department of State’s (DOS) Coastal Management Program, which seeks to balance economic development with protecting ecological, cultural, historic, recreational and aesthetic assets along the Hudson River Estuary and expressly prohibits a reduction in public access for water-related recreational activities.

“Now more than ever, riverfront communities rely on river access as a means of ensuring vibrant and resilient local economies. Scenic Hudson commends Amtrak for withdrawing its application to construct gates and fences so it can take a more inclusive approach to this five-year plan along the Empire Corridor. We look forward to working with Amtrak, affected communities and others to help develop a plan that can reduce risk without adversely impacting river access,” said Scenic Hudson Director of Land Use Advocacy Jeffrey Anzevino.

“I wish to thank Amtrak, NYSDOT and NYSDOS for withdrawing the current application and agreeing to work with our communities to finalize a plan prior to submitting a new application. Working together, we can achieve the right balance of access and safety,” said Town of Germantown Supervisor Rob Beaury.

“I’m pleased that Amtrak is taking the time to look at this in the appropriate way and giving the public and elected officials their time to give the needed input. There are proven, reasonable alternatives to a one-size-fits-all iron fence that will allow for access to the Hudson River while still maintaining public safety,” said Town of Stockport Supervisor Matt Murell, who also serves as chairman of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors.

In an unprecedented move, earlier this month leaders of 12 Hudson Valley municipalities that stood to be impacted by the original plan joined in signing a letter to the DOS urging it to object to Amtrak’s proposal to construct the eight-foot-tall fencing.

In December, Scenic Hudson co-hosted an information session in Germantown that attracted more than 110 public officials and citizens concerned with Amtrak’s proposal, which would have prevented the use of riverfront sites where people have launched boats, fished and hunted for generations. At the meeting, Scenic Hudson presented a study it commissioned that highlights alternatives to barriers used elsewhere in the U.S. that improve rail safety while permitting public access to critical recreational resources. The most promising of these are specially designed at-grade, gate-protected crossings that are viable alternatives to more costly and intrusive overpasses.

About Scenic Hudson

Scenic Hudson preserves land and farms and creates parks that connect people with the inspirational power of the Hudson River, while fighting threats to the river and natural resources that are the foundation of the valley’s prosperity.

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