Plans proceed for Black River Trail

A proposed plan to expand the Black River Trail to extend to Fort Drum could be paid for with state DOT funds. Kara Dry/Watertown Daily Time

WATERTOWN — The City Council on Monday night informally agreed to support plans to expand the Black River Trail to Fort Drum.

The Watertown-Jefferson County Area Transportation Council requested that the city support applying for the state Department of Transportation funding for the project. The city is a member jurisdiction for the WJCTC.

If funded, the trail would most likely be expanded west from Marble Street Park to Factory Square Park, going over a former railroad bed to Sewall’s Island the city has owned for several years, City Manager Kenneth A. Mix said during Monday night’s council work session. Expanding east would involve some property issues, he said.

The trail expansion is projected to cost $1.5 million to $1.8 million.

The state program would pay 80% of the project, while the city would be required to fund a 20% share or $300,000 to $360,000.

But Mr. Mix said that the city could use money from the city’s Community Development Block Grant program or possibly some of its $22 million from the American Rescue Plan to pay for its share.

If that happened, there would be no cost from the general fund, Mr. Mix said.

“I think this is a great idea, especially if there won’t be a cost to the general fund,” Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith said.

Council members would have to formally approve a resolution that would be prepared for a future meeting, Mr. Mix said.

The WJCTC, the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the region, recently retained the engineering firm of Barton & Loguidice to write the grant for the funding through the state Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternative Program, which promotes bicycle, pedestrian, multiuse path and non-motorized transportation-related projects.

Last summer, the trail was expanded from Walker Avenue to Waterworks Park through the use of TAP funding.

The application is due in September.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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