Parks & Trails New York and the Canalway Trails Assocation New York have released the annual Closing the Gaps report. The big news: the Erie Canalway Trail is now 80% complete as an off road route!
With 288 miles now open to the public, the Erie Canalway Trail is well on its way to becoming the longest continuous intrastate multi-use trail in the nation. Of course the ECT is already a world-class destination for cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts, and an important resource for more than 3.7 million New Yorkers living within the 14 counties in which the trail is located.
The Closing the Gaps report details progress made toward a completed, off-road trail in 2015.
• The NYS Canal Corporation completed construction of 5.5 miles of new trail, from Lockport to Pendleton, addressing a large part of what was an eight-mile gap between Amherst and Lockport. The remaining 2.5 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.
• The Village of Green Island in Albany County received $44,000 in Canal Greenway funding through the state’s Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) Program to complete an important link in the ECT from the Black Bridge to Cannon Street, a distance of 1000 feet.
• In Amsterdam, construction began on the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook, a $16.5M pedestrian bridge that will connect Amsterdam’s Southside and Erie Canalway Trail to the city’s downtown and Riverlink Park. The bridge is being funded by the Rebuild and Renew New York Transportation Bond Act of 2005. In June, federal, state and local officials announced they had secured an additional $1 million to fund artistic elements on the bridge, including a ripple design along the deck that will mimic the Mohawk River below and two circular plazas that will extend from the main span. Besides providing great views, these plazas will be large enough to accommodate performances.
• In Wayne County, in the Town of Galen, two new sections of stone dust trail have been finished, connecting Lock Berlin Park with Black Brook Park, and on to Old Route 31. Wayne County provided the funding for the project. This section stretches 1.5 miles. Along with funded gap sections that are under development in the Town of Lyons and the Village of Clyde, the Lyons to Clyde gap has been reduced to 4.5 miles.
• Also in Wayne County, a working group has been formed, with officials from various levels of government and local non-profits directing planning and design efforts for unfinished trail sections. The working group has also identified a provisional route for the future Erie Canalway Trail through Wayne County, utilizing off-road railroad corridors and on-road connections.
There still is much work to do: 72 miles of Erie Canalway Trail are unfinished. For approximately 20 of those miles there is an identified source of funding and work is programmed to start within the next three years. For an additional 53 miles of trail, an estimated $40 million in funding is needed for corridor purchase and/or design and construction.
Since the “Closing the Gaps” campaign was launched in 2010 by Parks & Trails New York (PTNY) and the Canalway Trails Association New York (CTANY), 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 to grow.
PTNY and partners across the state will continue to push for trail completion so that Canal communities and all of New York State can fully realize the ECT’s potential as an internationally known tourism destination, recreational resource, and economic generator.
View the report here.