Parks & Trails New York (PTNY) and the Canalway Trails Association New York (CTANY) have released their third annual report, Closing the Gaps: A Progress Report on the Erie Canalway Trail 2012. PTNY and CTANY note that 2012 was a year of many accomplishments in efforts to close the remaining 84 miles of gaps in the 361-mile trail that extends from Buffalo to Albany:
-Seven miles of trail are under construction – six miles between Newark and Lyons and one mile in the City of Little Falls – with completion slated for 2013.
-The eight-mile Amherst to Lockport project will go out to bid in 2013, closing one of the six key gaps in the Erie Canalway Trail system. When combined with the work underway between Newark and Lyons in Wayne County, the project will create more than 134 continuous miles of trail between the City of Buffalo in Erie County and the Village of Lyons in Wayne County.
-The Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council has begun to define a short- and long-term route for the trail through the City of Syracuse with the first priority being the creation of a temporary on-road, signed route that would accommodate pedestrians and touring cyclists.
-Members of Governor Cuomo’s Cabinet and Executive Staff as “Team New York” cycled the Erie Canalway Trail from Buffalo to Albany as part of PTNY’s 14th annual eight-day Cycling the Erie Canal event to better understand the trail’s potential for economic development.
Since PTNY and CTANY launched their “Closing the Gaps Campaign” in 2010 in conjunction with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, interest in completing the Erie Canalway Trail among citizens, community leaders, and local, state and federal government officials has reached an all-time high.
“We are encouraged by the accomplishments in 2012 and the trail construction work scheduled to begin in 2013. Especially inspiring is the heightened awareness among community leaders of the tourism and economic benefits derived from the Erie Canalway Trail. However, reduced federal funding from MAP-21 and continuing economic stresses on localities increase the challenges of Closing the Gaps,” said Nelson Ronsvalle, CTANY president.
Focus for 2013
Additional progress in closing the gaps will result from the efforts of Canalway Trail communities and at all levels of government, including the Regional Economic Development Councils and the Canal Corporation, working together to address specific needs and challenges in discrete trail segments. CTANY and PTNY will continue to support and promote those efforts and emphasize the importance of the Canalway Trail to tourism, local economies, and the health and the quality of life of Canalway Trail-community residents.
“The Erie Canalway Trail is without parallel in scenery, history, and charm but it can’t reach its full potential of being an international tourism draw until it is complete,” said PTNY Executive Director Robin Dropkin. “Because funding is in some cases the only impediment to closing a gap, we urge NYSDOT to quickly make the remaining Transportation Enhancements funds and newly allocated Transportation Alternatives funds available to communities to support projects that will further efforts to “Close the Gaps.”
Canal Corporation Director, Brian U. Stratton said, “Governor Cuomo recognizes the strategic importance of the Erie Canal and Erie Canalway Trail as economic engines for upstate New York. Through efforts such as the “Cycling the Erie Canal/ Team New York” ride last year and the more than 15 miles of Erie Canalway Trail being constructed by the Canal Corporation in 2013 in Erie, Niagara, Wayne, Oneida and Herkimer Counties, the Governor’s administration is demonstrating its commitment to achieving the full potential of this important resource.”
Closing the Gaps: A Progress Report on the Erie Canalway Trail 2012 is available on the Parks & Trails New York website, www.ptny.org.
Parks & Trails New York is the state’s leading advocate for parks and trails, working since 1985 to expand, protect and promote a network of parks, trails and open spaces throughout the state for use and enjoyment by all. For more than 14 years PTNY has worked with the New York State Canal Corporation, CTANY, and Canalway Trail communities to foster development of the trail and oversee the Adopt-a-Trail Program. PTNY promotes the trail through its annual 400-mile Cycling the Erie Canal bike tour, Bicyclists Bring Business community roundtables and Canal Clean Sweep events and its publications, Cycling the Erie Canal: A guide to 400 miles of adventure and history along the Erie Canalway Trail and Bicyclists Bring Business: A Guide for Attracting Bicyclists to New York’s Canal Communities. For more information, visit www.ptny.org or call 518-434-1583.
The Canalway Trails Association New York is an all-volunteer organization that works both statewide and locally with citizens, state agencies and municipalities to develop the Erie Canalway Trail as a world-class multi-use recreational trail and international bicycle tourism destination. In partnership with the NYS Canal Corporation, PTNY and others, it encourages the proper maintenance of the trail by coordinating the Adopt-a-Trail Program.