In the wake of Amtrak’s proposal to construct fencing along portions of the railroad’s Empire corridor along the Hudson River between Rhinebeck and Stuyvesant, Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-Columbia, Dutchess)submitted a letter to the Department of State (DOS) calling on the state to require public hearings to ensure transparency and communication with residents.
“As the Assemblymember representing several of the towns along this route, I join Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson, as well as the Supervisors of Germantown, Livingston, Clermont, Stockport, and Stuyvesant, in their call for Amtrak and the DOS to hold public information meetings in the affected communities,” said Barrett.
DOS originally announced only a two-week public comment period, which would have ended on March 28th. However, after backlash from various communities, DOS agreed to move the public comment period to May 1.
“While we are pleased to see the comment period extended until May 1st, we request that the DOS require public meetings,” continued Barrett. “It is essential that our communities both be informed of the impact of this proposal on their waterfront and be able to voice their local concerns to Amtrak and the DOS.”
Amtrak’s proposal has serious ramifications for communities along the Hudson River. Whether enjoying recreational activities or the beautiful viewsheds, residents and visitors alike have long cherished their river access. This loss of public access may well be in conflict with the NYS Coastal Management Plan, as well as incompatible with the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plans of multiple communities in the area.
Additionally, there are serious safety concerns as the plan negatively impacts access for emergency responders to both the water and the shore; and there are fears that certain animal habitats that have flourished in the relatively undisturbed areas around the railroad tracks would be upended by this proposal.