While Trails are a very important part of Ulster County, they are not the end all. They should not be at the core development for the U&D Corridor but part of it’s ancillary. A better route to follow would be to use the railroad as a core seed and add the Trails. Have Rail with Trail, from the City of Kingston to Highmount that promotes usage for all people and expedites sustainable businesses on multiple levels.
Towards that objective here are a couple of thoughts.
A Proud History
The U&D Corridor represents one of last Heritage areas in New York’s Catskill rail legacy. It is the last of a potentially complete restore-able rail routes that supported an entire Catskills area (not just Ulster County) industry beginning around the 1890’s and lasting in part into the second half of the twentieth century. This heritage belongs to all New Yorkers, all Americans. Investment opportunities should be encouraged to enable its best capacity as a comprehensive heritage railroad. This should be for the entire length, past Ulster’s western frontier to connect with existing rails in Delaware County. Within this completeness lays the greatest tourist and scenic potential for the entire lower eastern part of New York State. Ulster County is alone in this unique opportunity to capitalize on this.
Tomorrow’s Travel Requirements
We are on the verge of another historic shift in the way we live and the way we move in that life. Our grand kids and their children will view work and lifestyles differently. Local economies will grow more important and a lot of commuting will be pedestrian including biking. Transit systems will connect these communities, even rural ones.
As the culture changes, a rail system will be of tremendous advantage to any county’s economic situation. Tourism will become more pedestrian and Ulster needs to connect with this area with an eye towards that. Automobiles are getting more expensive to own and not just because of gas prices. Total ownership costs are rising. Every year fewer people are even interested in car ownership particularly in the NYC area. As environment issues become more pronounced, many of these pedestrian life stylists will look toward alternate transportation. Tourism will become more pedestrian and Ulster needs to connect with this area with an eye towards that.
Getting back to the Catskills by Rail !
Getting those friends here means more than just increasing bus and auto traffic on Rt. 28. Kingston should become a transport and inter-modal center. Not everyone that wishes to experience the magnificence of the Ashokan Area will want to drive their SUV or board a bus to get there from distant regions. On trains, greater numbers of people (means more revue to the local economy) can visit the area with far less environmental impact then the current system of highways and automotive-centric tourism. Trails only still means that visitors use their cars to get to the area. More and more tourism is becoming rail based.
Infrastructure is not just a matter of the present – There is a bold future to consider.
While there is difficultly with meeting these goals, the greater good and long term effects will well be worth the additional efforts. There will be greater demands on financing and cooperativeness and better creativity will be needed, but the benefits for future generations will be much, much greater.
We didn’t go to the moon with an Austerity attitude. A heritage and scenic railroad is a link to the past but it is also a symbol of the future. Use these rails as a seed to grow these options for Kingston and Ulster County. Help this seed connect with the CSX in Kingston and with the greater world at large.