The Erie Canalway Trail is almost 80% complete and on its way to becoming the longest, continuous intrastate multi-use trail in the nation. But the trail can’t realize its full potential as an internationally known tourism destination until it’s finished from Buffalo to Albany. PTNY’s fifth annual “Closing the Gaps” report recaps the accomplishments of 2014 and outlines the status of the 79 miles of trail left to finish.
Each year PTNY and the Canalway Trails Association New York release a “Closing the Gaps” report to update canal corridor communities and national, state, and local decision makers on recent progress and current trail status as well as underscore the need for the resources and political support to ensure the Erie Canalway Trail is quickly finished.
Since PTNY and the Canalway Trails Association New York (CTANY) launched the “Closing the Gaps” campaign in 2010 in conjunction with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, interest in completing the Erie Canalway Trail among citizens, community leaders, and local, state, and federal government officials continues unabated. Under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration, more than 32 miles of trail have been rehabilitated, or constructed or are planned or under construction.
In 2014 alone:
- The NYS Canal Corporation completed three miles of new trail in the City of Rome in Oneida County.
- Work began on the eight-mile gap between Amherst and Lockport in western New York. Under the direction of the NYS Canal Corporation, construction will begin in early 2015 on five miles of new trail. The remaining three miles of trail are under design. When the gap is complete, it will result in more than 130 miles of continuous off-road trail in western New York.
- Funding was awarded for nine miles of new trail in Wayne, Herkimer, and Montgomery Counties. Funding awards from the federal Transportation Enhancements and Transportation Alternatives Programs will be used to construct three new trail segments: one mile in the Wayne County Village of Clyde, two miles in the Town of German Flatts in Herkimer County, and six miles between South Amsterdam and Pattersonville in Montgomery County.
There still is much work to do: 79 miles of Erie Canalway Trail are still unfinished. Twenty-five of those miles have an identified source of funding and are programmed for work to start within the next three years. For 54 miles of trail, there is still no identified source of funding and/or right-of-way issues present challenges to defining or developing a trail route.
However, opportunities such as the state’s CFA grants program and a strong commitment to closing the gaps at all levels of government, make the goal of having the entire 79 miles of trail under construction or in design by the 2017 bicentennial of the start of construction on the original Erie Canal possibly within reach.