Plans are in the works to better link Walkway Over the Hudson to surrounding communities and to tourism dollars. New York’s Secretary of State toured the pedestrian bridge in the mid-Hudson Valley Monday, seeing projects and hearing pitches about how the bridge can span a larger vision of tourism in the state.
Those are officials speaking with Secretary of State Cesar Perales about the need to keep Walkway visitors in the region, directing them to other sites and attractions – as Walkway Over the Hudson Executive Director Elizabeth Waldstein-Hart puts it:
She led the tour, joined by elected officials and others. Walkway is the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world, connecting Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County to the Town of Lloyd in Ulster County. Some 500,000 visitors descend upon the bridge annually, with about one-half coming from outside the region. Officials predicted Perales would be impressed. Here he is at the tour’s end.
Democratic State Assemblyman Frank Skartados, whose district includes both sides of Walkway, says it meant a lot that Perales visited.
Perales was shown projects already funded and told about projects in need of funding. City of Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik, along with Waldstein-Hart, stood roughly mid-span, pointing to the Poughkeepsie waterfront to the north.
Then Matthew Smith got the secretary’s ear, pointing to the Ulster County side and pitching his gondola project. Smith is project manager for the Gondola Project and Highland Landing Park. The gondola, or skyline ride, would have glass-enclosed cars, like an enclosed ski lift, taking visitors from the Town of Lloyd to the bridge. He says having buses traverse the steep and windy roads to get from town to the Walkway would be dangerous.
He says the project is in the planning stages, having undergone a feasibility study. Perales had one question.
The tour included a visit to the Washington Street Plaza renovation project in Poughkeepsie, below the bridge. It’s soon to be the site of signage, lighting, and landscaping. Officials also showed Perales the waterfront elevator construction project on the Poughkeepsie side. On the Ulster County side, Perales heard other ideas for improving the entrance area and riverfront access.
Democratic State Senator Terry Gipson, whose district includes Poughkeepsie, says Walkway is a top priority project in his region.
Walkway has seen more than 2 million visitors since opening four years ago.