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. “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,” the groups said in a press release announcing the annual report.
The report notes efforts in 2012 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.
“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.
According to the press release: “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.”
PTNY Executive Director Robin Dropkin said “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.”
Closing the Gaps: A Progress Report on the Erie Canalway Trail 2012 is available on the Parks & Trails New York website via pdf.