Spanning the Hudson River between Poughkeepsie and Highland, NY, the remarkable Walkway Over the Hudson reclaims a long abandoned railroad bridge as a public promenade and regional trail connector. Opened in 2009, the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park has quickly become one of the Hudson Valley’s top attractions, attracting nearly 600,000 visitors annually. The Walkway stands 212 feet above the river’s surface and is more than 6,700 feet (1.28 miles) long, making it the longest, elevated pedestrian bridge in the world. The Walkway is open daily from 7 a.m. to sunset, providing access to the Hudson River’s breathtaking landscape for pedestrians, hikers, joggers, bicyclists, and people with disabilities.
Saratoga Associates was contracted by the NYS Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation (NYSOPRHP) to design architectural and site improvements that enhance the visitor experience and facility function at the busy West Approach of the Walkway. The brand new 3500 sqft Visitor Center offers visitor information, interpretive exhibits, restroom facilities and permanent OPRHP facilities. A multi-purpose outdoor amphitheater accommodates public functions, education and entertainment activities. An adjacent courtyard deck provides a rest area for trail users and an outdoor space for food concessions and picnicking. Parking and walkway enhancements complete universal accessibility to west side park facilities and provide improved visitor circulation, including new and improved signage, enhanced landscaping, bus drop-off location to provide easier access, and upgraded and environmentally friendly pathways that will improve connections for those entering and exiting the park. The facility also offers many environmentally conscious and energy efficient features such as LED lighting, insulated building shells, and modern heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment, powered by solar panels.
The ribbon cutting ceremony, held in June, celebrated the opening of the $5.4 million Ulster Welcome Center at the western gateway to Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park. The multipurpose facility is part of Governor Cuomo’s NY Parks 2020 initiative, a multi-year commitment of $900 million in private and public funding through 2020 and complements Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Trail initiative, a planned 750-mile bicycle and walking path linking new and existing regional trails from New York City to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo. The Walkway is a major link in the Empire State Trail, connecting the Hudson Valley Rail Trail with the Dutchess Rail Trail.