Campaign generates widespread support
Although no new Erie Canalway Trail was opened in 2011, there is dramatically renewed interest in completing the cross-state trail among citizens, community leaders, and elected officials at all levels of government, according to the second annual Closing the Gaps: A Progress Report on the Erie CanalwayTrail report. The report to be released soon by the Canalway Trails Association New York (CTANY), in collaboration with PTNY.
The campaign to “Close the Gaps,” initiated by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in the fall of 2010, drew more than 200 persons to additional roundtables in Syracuse, Lockport, Utica, and Clyde. Each roundtable spawned local follow–up meetings and a number of working groups focused on discovering “out of the box” solutions to the unique challenges associated with discrete segments of the larger trail gaps.
The NYS Canal Corporation also responded to the need to close the gaps with an application for $35 million in federal TIGER III funds to acquire necessary right of way and undertake construction of 75 miles of trail that would effectively complete the remaining major trail gaps. The breadth and depth of support for this effort was represented by the application’s letters of endorsement from Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressional Representatives Paul Tonko, Richard Hanna, and Kathy Hochul and 65 local elected officials, state agencies, Chamber of Commerce, IDAs, and nonprofits.
With 270 miles now open, the Erie Canalway Trail is 75% complete and on its way to becoming a premiere tourist destination for cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts, but it can neither realize its full potential as a world-class tourism destination nor offer important economic, public health, tourism, and quality of life benefits to the more than 3.7 million New Yorkers living within the 13 counties along its length until it is finished from Buffalo to Albany as a continuous off-road trail.