Congress approves funding for scenic byway center

President expected to sign bill into law

WASHINGTON, DC — The final version of a massive transportation-spending bill, passed July 29 by the U.S. House of Representatives and later by the Senate, would inject $1.7 million into two Sullivan County projects if President Bush approves it.

Out of $14.4 million labeled for infrastructure projects across New York State, the bill would send $600,000 to the Sullivan County Legislature to fund the design and construction of a visitors center for the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway at the site of the historic Cochecton Railroad Station as well as $1.1 million for the rehabilitation of College Road by Sullivan County Community College.

“We’re excited. We’ve waited to hear something on this proposal for a long time,” said Larry Richardson, chairman of the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway, which recently obtained its non-profit status. “We’re really excited that they’ve been able to hold that money for us.”

When Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) first announced the federal funding in April 2004, President Bush’s veto of the early version of the bill loomed, and Hinchey promised its passage or an override by Congress of Bush’s rejection. After the president threatened a veto, a joint House-Senate conference committee was established to draft its final version, the one that was just passed by the House.

A press release from Hinchey’s office stated that the president is expected to sign the bill into law.

The Cochecton Preservation Society owns the historic railroad station and would need to agree on the new center’s design, which would begin once the money is available. Richardson said the society is “pleased” to know the station is the proposed location for the visitors center.

The goals of the center would be to enhance the local economy by promoting local businesses and tourism and to provide tourists with educational and interpretive information. The public would also have access to restroom facilities at the center.

Richardson said scenic byway volunteers hope the center would also provide the organization with some additional office space. Currently, the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway, Inc. is run out of the Upper Delaware Council office in Narrowsburg, NY.