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Hudson Valley News
Mon January 7, 2013
Officials Debunk Reports of Walkway Pedestrian Fee
Some media reports Monday mention the possibility of imposing a pedestrian fee on Walkway over the Hudson - the longest, elevated pedestrian bridge in the world. Walkway connects Poughkeepsie, in Dutchess County, with Highland, in Ulster County, and has become a popular place for both locals and tourists. WAMC’s Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Allison Dunne has more on how officials say there will be no such fee.
Those media reports mention that a commissioner with the New York State Bridge Authority Board suggested that the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation consider charging a pedestrian fee, to garner funds for the maintenance of Walkway Over the Hudson. Here’s Bridge Authority spokesman John Bellucci:
As for imposing a pedestrian fee, again, here’s Bellucci:
No possibility, that is, coming from the Bridge Authority. The fee would have to come from the state Parks department, which manages Walkway, and a spokesman with the state office of Parks says there is no plan for any pedestrian fee. None.
The reality, though, is the maintenance and repair of Walkway does cost money, and officials are open to considering ways to raise revenue. Democratic State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, in whose district Walkway sits, says he strongly opposes any pedestrian fee, and when he heard about those media reports saying there was the possibility, he immediately phoned Executive Director of the State Bridge Authority Joe Ruggiero, along with John Dyson of the Dyson Foundation. Cahill said he learned that the Bridge Authority Board commissioner in those media reports was questioning the sources of revenue for maintenance and repair of Walkway. He also learned there was no plan for a pedestrian fee.
He said there are several alternatives that could be discussed to raise revenue to maintain the bridge. For instance, he is not opposed to a parking-lot fee for Walkway. Another idea is his own, an assembly bill called “Pennies for Parks”.
Cahill said the bill has been advanced in both houses in the state legislature, and he expects to move forward on the bill more aggressively this year.
Meanwhile, the Bridge Authority’s Ruggiero said additional funding to offset maintenance costs would be great, but given the state’s fiscal situation, the Bridge Authority is prepared to fulfill its obligation for the maintenance of the Walkway within its current finances. The Bridge Authority is funded through toll collection on the Bear Mountain; Newburgh-Beacon; Mid-Hudson; Kingston-Rhinecliff, and Rip Van Winkle Bridges.