This past week, we participated in the official announcement for the Empire State Trail project through Central New York. Five years ago we set out to generate ideas for how to re-imagine and reconnect to the historical Erie Canal corridor linking DeWitt and Syracuse. Those ideas helped to ignite the statewide effort to complete what will now be known as the Empire State Trail which, when completed by the end of 2020, will create a 750-mile pathway from Buffalo to Albany and from New York City to the Canadian border. We can hardly contain our enthusiasm! More than $36 million in public and private dollars have been allocated to close the 14 mile gap in the Erie Canalway Trail between Camillus and DeWitt through a series of trail projects including:
The New York State Department of Transportation will connect the Erie Boulevard corridor between DeWitt and Syracuse by expanding and enhancing existing bike lanes and pedestrian trails. This $27 million project includes reducing Erie Boulevard by one lane in each direction between Beech and Bridge Streets to create an off-road bike and pedestrian trail.
Onondaga County will invest $9 million to extend the Loop the Lake Trail around Onondaga Lake, including building a bicycle/pedestrian bridge over the CSX railroad tracks at the southern end the lake, making a crucial connection to downtown Syracuse.
Honeywell Corporation will complete construction of the Loop the Lake Trail on the southwest side of Onondaga Lake, and will build a new 3.5-mile off-road trail from the lake west to Camillus. The new trail is one of the natural resource mitigation projects Honeywell is completing as part of its Onondaga Lake cleanup efforts.
The New York State Fair will invest $500,000 to create an Empire State Trail Gateway to welcome bicyclists and trail visitors to the fairgrounds.
Last year, New York State Parks completed a $2 million project to upgrade the deteriorated 12-mile section of the Old Erie Canal State Historic Park from Green Lakes State Park to Canastota. The project installed new stone dust surfacing for much of the pathway as well as paved asphalt surface on a 1.6-mile section in Chittenango from Lakeport Road east to Canaseraga Road. Andy Beers, Director of the Empire State Trail said, "These projects will provide a safe bicycling and walking route for urban Syracuse-area residents to access the Empire State Trail, Erie Canalway Trail, and Loop the Lake Trail, promoting outdoor recreation and healthy lifestyles. The completion of the Empire State Trail in 2020 will create an unrivaled statewide recreational asset that further showcases New York's scenic beauty and extraordinary history."
Construction is scheduled to begin soon, with a completion date of late 2020. We are looking forward to celebrating with you all in the Spring of 2021! Mark your calendars!