Save the Pine Bush, You can fight City Hall and win!

Exploring Bus Service to the Pine Bush

by John Wolcott

One can reach the Pine Bush from Albany by bus. However, it is, at one point, difficult and unsafe. At another point, it is awkward, and, as yet, uncertain.

A couple of weeks ago, I tested part of the bus system in person. I took the Number 12 Crossgates bus to Wall-Mart on the Washington Avenue Extension. This is the nearest stop to the Rapp Road-Rensselaer Lake section of the Pine Bush Preserve. I walked from Wal-Mart along the parking lots to and along the lateral access road leading to the Pine Bush Fire & Police Station at the corner of Washington Avenue Extension and Rapp Road. The bus could does not stop here, but I think it easily could, though a bus stopping here could be a problem for a police and fire fighters in an emergency. Instead, another arrangement could be made with the bus taking a broad loop at the west end of the mall parking lots into a vacant lot then back down the access road. This would keep the route basically as it is but with a stop closer to Rapp Road and the Preserve.

Two things have happened which make this highly desirable. First, in 1986, an unheralded bike-hiking path was constructed leading from the eastern foot of Mount Trashmore (otherwise known as the Greater Albany Landfill) alongside a Thruway-Northway connector lane underneath the Rapp Road Bridge to Rensselaer lake. Now, this year, thanks to a lot of hard work by Save the Pine Bush plus a master stroke idea of Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, a substantial section of preserve is reachable by crossing the Rapp Road bridge. The Rapp Road Bridge can readily be walked over now but it needs to be made safer. There are no sidewalks on it even though it is wide enough for sidewalks and still have enough of a roadway for motor vehicles. Another thing, is that I have been informed by the elder housing facility next to Time-Warner, that they would like to have their residents enjoy the Preserve by walking over the Rapp Road bridge. The residents may do so now but they have been advised not to until traffic fixtures are designed and installed at Rapp Road and Washington Avenue Extension that favors pedestrians. The current ones there just as at most street and road crossings everywhere do not.

I have been informed that one can take the #10 Crossgates Bus or the #12 Crossgates to the Crossgates Maul and transfer to a "Shuttle-Bug" small bus which goes to the Karner Industrial Park on Route 155. The Shuttle-Bugs go the Karner Park by a stated, as yet unknown schedule, and also to other workplaces along Route 155 by request. Call CDTA and ask for the number to call to get picked up when you are ready to return. There is always a pay phone available at the State Employees Federal Credit Union, but I am not sure about elsewhere on Route 155. Probably a hike using this bus connection would work better if someone in a group carried a cell phone. If any cell phone operator wants to volunteer we may try a hike this way later in the summer.

A Pine Bush hikers bus connection to the Point of Woods area is more desirable than ever now for a similar reason as the Rapp Road Connection. Last fall, the Thruway Authority responded favorably to a recommendation made initially by Save the Pine Bush, and seconded by the Sierra Club and the Arbor Hill Concerned Citizens for Environmental Justice. A special hikers underpass was constructed under the north side of the Route 155 bridge over the Thruway. This not only re-connects the historic Kings Highway, but it has created a safe hiking route between the Preserve east of Route 155, north of the Thruway. It also has, de facto, created a safe passage from the south side of the Thruway to the north side and back again along the west side of Route 155. On the Route 155 bridge sidewalk this was enhanced in advance by the acquisition of the Swyer parcel at the northwest corner of Route 155 and Washington Avenue Extension.

Please join us for our next Bus Hike on August 26 (see front page for details). Enjoy the Pine Bush while leaving your car at home!

published August/September 2000 Newsletter
Last Updated 9/28/00


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