Byway Receives Recreational Grant

On The River
August 5, 2012
Lock 19 Project
August 31, 2012
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Byway Receives Recreational Grant

1900 Vischer Ferry Bridge Abutment

The 1900 Vischer Ferry Bridge Abutment as seen from the Erie Canal channel in the Mohawk River. The car seen in the background is parked at the end of Ferry Drive, Clifton Park.

The Mohawk Towpath Byway obtained a $416,880 grant to improve recreational access along the Byway.  This grant is a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Byway Grant that will fund a project to greatly improve recreational access and safety on the Towpath Trail. The project will include rehabilitation of the historic bridge abutment at the foot of Ferry Drive.  The bridge abutment will provide an over look of the Mohawk River and Erie Canal.  This is also a popular fishing spot. The grant will also provide funding to reconstruct a farmer’s bridge at Clute’s, the site of a historic Erie Canal dry dock community in the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve.

Clutes Dry Dock

Clutes Dry Dock to the right opens to the 1842 Erie Canal on the left. The Towpath Trail is on the far bank of the Canal (left background). The farmer’s bridge to be reconstructed is behind (east) of the photographer.

“Investments in transportation projects like these create jobs right away in communities across the country, and lay a foundation for future economic growth,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on announcing the grant. “Thanks to these grants, states, cities and local communities can move forward with the transportation projects Americans need to reach their destinations more safely, quickly and efficiently.”  In all, seven byway projects were funded in New York State totaling almost $14 million.

“Crossing the Historic Canal at Clutes is a key, critical access along a long stretch of the Towpath Trail.  It’s the first access point west of the Town of Halfmoon town line and Canal Road some 4000 feet to the east,” said Eric Hamilton, Executive director of the Mohawk Towpath Byway.  “This is the largest grant the Byway has ever received, and will significantly improve recreational access as well as replace one of several farmers bridges that crossed the early canal as it flowed through the area that is now the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve.”

Clute's Farmers Bridge

The historic farmer’s bridge to be replaced is the one in right  background silhouetted against the distant trees. (Historic photo in the Town of Clifton Park collection)

“The Town of Clifton Park values its role as one of the municipal partners that has made the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway such a success,” Clifton Park Supervisor Phil Barret enthusiastically added. “We look forward to continued cooperation and to implementing this project for the benefit of our communities and our visitors.”

“This project will complement the community effort by our Southern Saratoga County Chamber partners at Lock 19,” points out Peter Bardunias of the Southern Saratoga County Chamber.  “The entrance to the Preserve at the end of Ferry Drive is a popular access point, trail head and the closest to the historic double Lock 19.”

Reconstruction of the Towpath Trail is expected to start as early as next spring.  It may be a couple of years before the construction of the access improvements can be completed.

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