Closing 2.1-mile gap in Niagara County speeds completion of governor’s Empire State Trail
The New York State Canal Corp. has opened a 2.1-mile section of the Erie Canalway Trail that will enable bikers, hikers and joggers to enjoy an uninterrupted 135-mile stretch of the trail stretching from Buffalo to the Finger Lakes.
The project moves forward the completion of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Empire State Trail, which will create a 750-mile trail network from New York City to the Canadian border and from Albany to Buffalo on the Erie Canalway Trail when it is completed in late 2020.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul joined state and local officials on the trail in Pendleton for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally open the new section of Canalway Trail. Its 360-mile route from Buffalo to Albany is now more than 85% complete.
“The Erie Canal and the Erie Canalway Trail are economic and tourism engines in New York,” said Hochul, who spoke at the event. “I’m an avid bicyclist and cycle along the Canal in Western New York. I know how critical connectivity is for residents and visitors on the trail, which is why I’m proud to announce we are closing a 2.1-mile gap on the trail in Niagara County. This project will allow for an uninterrupted 135-mile stretch of the trail from Buffalo to the Finger Lakes. The new section continues our efforts to complete the 750-mile Empire State Trail to further boost tourism and strengthen the economy.”
The new trail section runs from Tonawanda Creek Road in Pendleton, just over the Amherst border, to Fisk-Feigle Road in Pendleton. It links up on the western end with a four-mile section of the trail completed in 2017 between Fisk-Feigle Road and Stevens Street in Lockport.
“Residents and visitors to Western New York have long embraced the Canalway trail as a way to easily explore the scenery along the canal and learn about its history and culture,” said Brian U. Stratton, Canal Corp. director. “With the completion of this project, we will greatly enhance the trail experience and make the Canalway Trail and Empire State Trail a prime destination for more walkers, hikers and bikers.”
The stretch from Pendleton to Buffalo is the most heavily used part of the Erie Canalway Trail, with an estimated 350,000 annual trips. With this new segment, pedestrians and bikers can now stay on the trail from Buffalo to Lyons in Wayne County.
“The longer people travel along the trail, the more they will find to enjoy and to keep coming back,” said Andy Beers, Empire State Trail director. “It’s an exciting preview of what’s to come when the entire Empire State Trail is up and running next year.”
Other segments of the Erie Canalway Trail now under construction include a 2.2-mile stretch in Herkimer County from Erie Canal Lock E-18 in German Flatts to Route 167 in Little Falls. At its Sept. 25 meeting, the New York State Canal Corp. trustees approved funding for two additional projects in the Mohawk Valley, a 3.7-mile section between Utica and the Town of Schuyler, and a 1.25-mile stretch from Frankfort to Ilion.
“Part of what makes our region of the state so special is the natural beauty that we have so successfully integrated within our community,” State Sen. Rob Ortt said. “By closing the Pendleton-Lockport gap, we are creating a new way for residents and visitors to experience the history and scenic landscapes of our area and a new way for bikers and pedestrians to enjoy the Empire State Trail.”
"Living in this region and seeing the natural beauty and history around us every day makes it all too easy to take it for granted," said Assemblywoman Karen McMahon. "The Canalway Trail will allow runners, bicyclists and anyone with an affinity for the outdoors, like myself, to enjoy and appreciate this area we call home."
“As a member of the State Assembly Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development, I applaud the investment in the Erie Canalway Trail and am eager to see many residents and visitors take advantage of this pathway to view and experience all that our community has to offer,” Assemblyman Michael Norris said. “I look forward to continuing to work with the New York State Canal Corp., as well as the Reimagine the Canals Task Force, to make further investments and development in the transformation of the Erie Canal and related community initiatives.”