State to Close Gaps Along Erie Canalway Trail
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LOCKPORT, NY- Ken Geiger is one of more than 500 cyclists on a 400 mile ride along the Eric Canal Trail from Buffalo to Albany.
"So far it’s pretty nice. It's real flat so it makes it easy for riding" said Geiger.
But it hasn't been all smooth sailing. Along the state recreation trail between Amherst and Lockport, there is an eight mile gap, forcing cyclists to take to the street. Now, the state is moving forward to close that gap.
"It gives me great pleasure to announce that the New York State Canal Corporation will go out to bid next year on a long awaited and much needed project to close the eight mile gap in the Erie Canalway Trail between the city of Lockport and the Town of Amherst,” said Brian Stratton, Director of the Canal Corporation.
''This announcement today really creates some great synergy for us," said Lockport Mayor Michael Tucker.
Tucker applauds the move. He says for the past nine years, the city has been focused on boosting its heritage tourism. He believes the expansion will help reconnect Lockport with the rest of the region.
"It brings in some economic development. It brings people in. There's a lot of bicyclists is Western New York, a lot of people like to bicycle along the Erie Canal. This will allow them to come to our city from Amherst, spend some time here, spend some dollars here, and enjoy our city," said Mayor Tucker.
According to a 2011 report by Parks and Trails New York, close to two million people use the trail each year, with an overall annual economic impact of nearly 380 million dollars.
"It's one of the six gaps that are going to be closed. It's going to be a remarkable resource for cyclists, for walkers, for runners, people with baby carriages, seniors who like nice flat walking and bicycling," said Robin Dropkin, Executive Director, Parks and Trails New York.
Bids are scheduled to be opened in July of next year, with construction beginning in September 2013 and the new trail slated to open in the fall of 2014.