Public officials, trail supporters and residents recently gathered at a workshop in Ballston Spa to plan a new network of trails that will connect Saratoga, Albany, Schenectady and Rensselaer counties. The workshop was held by the Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC) in partnership consultants Behan Planning and Design and the Chazen Companies. According to Mike Allen of Behan Planning, the workshop’s goal was to draw up a network of trails that could create opportunities for alternative transportation between counties and communities. “The Capital District trails plan is really a transportation initiative. It’s about connecting different cities, towns, and villages with regional trails,” Allen told The Saratogian. “The idea is, we have a single regional trail network that connects three municipalities. This planning effort is about looking at what trials we have existing right now and working with different groups to figure out the connections or missing gaps that we have to create in this new parkland network.”
The Saratoga County workshop was one of four public workshops being held for this initiative. The other three will take place in Albany, Schenectady and Rensselaer counties to ensure that the coalition of trailblazers can incorporate ideas from all around their budding trail network. At the Saratoga County meeting, representatives of Saratoga Springs, Malta, Ballston Spa, Clifton Park and Halfmoon used markers to connect existing trails with new paths they envisioned. “Ask yourself, where do we want to connect to and how do we make those connections,” Allen told the paper. Added Maria Trabka, Executive Director of Saratoga PLAN and a workshop attendee, “We’re excited to see the connections made between communities. It’s people-power transportation. The Northway is packed with cars so you can view this as the alternative Northway.”
According to CDTC Senior Planner Jennifer Ceponis, this isn’t the first effort to connect up trails in the Capital Region. “In 2006 we did our first regional trails forum where we got information on three of the area’s major trails—the Mohawk-Hudson, Zim Smith and the Uncle Same Bikeway in Troy,” she said. “In 2016 we expanded our project to include nine trails. We’re [holding workshops] to learn what projects are coming, how to connect with them and any new corridors we’re unfamiliar with. We want a seamless transportation network.”
Locals interested in sharing their ideas for a bigger, better trail system can take the CDTC’s Trails Plan survey here.