What is Elevating Erie?
Elevating Erie is a collaborative effort to address a portion of the 14 mile gap in the Erie Canalway Trail System within Central New York. While the original Erie Canal through Central New York between DeWitt and Camillus has been paved over for 100 years, the corridor has remained significant to the region by transporting people and goods. The corridor now has the potential to become part of the longest continuous bicycle and pedestrian trail in North America.
what do we mean by Elevating?
We wanted to pursue an approach to the historical Erie Canal corridor that would help to reclaim and celebrate its heritage in a way that could stimulate additional economic investment (just as the original investment in the Canal did 200 years ago). In the Fall of 2015, the City of Syracuse and Town of DeWitt launched Elevating Erie by issuing an open call for ideas through a competition to identify innovative ways to stimulate and guide the future development of the Canalway corridor within both the Town and the City. This jointly-sponsored solicitation, made possible with funding from the New York State Department of State and the Central New York Community Foundation, solicited ideas from the international design community through an open call for ideas. 64 different proposals were received representing ideas from 16 different countries. The ideas competition was a first step towards initiating a community discussion about the importance of the canal corridor, and how best to reclaim its heritage in a celebratory and stimulating fashion.
What exactly is the Erie Canalway Trail?
The Canalway Trail is a network of approximately 400-miles of multi-use trails across upstate New York. The Canalway Trail follows the towpaths of both active and historic sections of the New York State Canal System, as well as adjacent abandoned rail corridors. Major portions of the Canalway Trail follow the legendary Erie Canal route from Buffalo to Albany. Along the way, the Erie Canalway Trail links the cities of Rochester, Syracuse, and Utica. Over 75% of the Erie Canalway Trail is completed off-road.
The Canalway Trail is not only a long-distance bicycling destination, but also a recreational resource for biking, walking, jogging, and other types of seasonal trail activities. In Syracuse the Canalway Trail has an entry point in DeWitt heading east and an entry point in Camillus heading west with a roughly 14-mile gap between them. Arguably the most challenging section of that gap, and the area with the most opportunity, is the segment of Erie Boulevard in question.
Bicycle tourism is one of the fastest growing forms of tourism in North America. When cyclists come to town, they do so seeking good food, drink, sightseeing, a good place to sleep, and a safe place to store their bike(s). According to a recent study conducted by Park and Trails NY, the Erie Canalway Trail gets more than 1.58 million visits per year. Spending by those visitors generates $253 million annually in economic impact and $28.5 million in sales and income taxes. Trail traffic also supports 3,440 jobs in the local economies within the trail corridor.