Completion of Pedestrian Bridge and New Trail Connections in Onondaga County Bring Visionary Plan for Statewide Pathway Closer to Completion
Project Complements "CNY Rising" - The Region's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a major milestone in the construction of the Empire State Trail, the state's historic initiative to create a 750-mile pathway from New York City to Canada, and from Albany to Buffalo. Major construction has been completed on a new pedestrian bridge over Interstate 481 and key sections of the trail in the City of Syracuse and the Town of Dewitt in Onondaga County, helping to connect several of the last remaining gaps in the Empire State Trail, which is expected to be completed in 2020.
"With this significant milestone, we are taking another step towards providing even more of the outdoor recreational opportunities New Yorkers are looking for after staying home to flatten the curve of the virus," Governor Cuomo said. "Outdoor tourism is a cornerstone of the upstate economy and the enhancements we are making to the Empire State Trail will benefit residents and visitors and provide a boost to local businesses."
"The completion of the pedestrian bridge and trail connections in Syracuse and the town of DeWitt builds on our efforts to complete the Empire State Trail across the state," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "This project will create new recreational and transportation opportunities for residents and visitors in Onondaga County, during a critical time when many people are looking for things to do in their own backyard during the COVID-19 crisis. This investment in the Empire State Trail will enhance tourism in the area and improve quality of life as we build back better for the post-pandemic future."
A key part of the project was the construction of a new bicycling and pedestrian bridge over I-481 in the Town of Dewitt, which provides a link between Butternut Drive and Towpath Road just north of Kinne Road. The State Department of Transportation constructed a new trail section along the entire length of Towpath Road that links the Erie Canalway Trail in Dewitt to Bridge Street. From Celi Drive to Widewaters Parkway, Towpath Road has been converted to a one-way road, with the trail constructed on the south side; and from Widewaters Parkway to just north of the Kinne Road intersection, Towpath Road will remain a two-way road, with the trail located on the south side.
Improvements have been made along the existing bike trail in the City of Syracuse along Water Street from South Franklin Street to Beech Street, including striping, new curb ramps, sidewalk repair, signage and some minor changes to the bicycle pattern. This project is part of a wider, ongoing effort to eliminate the largest gap in the Erie Canalway section of the Empire State Trail, a 14-mile stretch between Camillus, Syracuse and DeWitt. Additional construction of the Syracuse and Dewitt portions, including the Erie Boulevard East section of the trail are under construction and scheduled for completion in late 2020.
The projects are a major step in fulfilling one of Governor Cuomo's 2017 State of the State initiatives to create the 750-mile Empire State Trail by 2020. A recent study projected that 8.6 million residents and tourists will visit the entire 750-mile trail annually.
New York Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, "The Department of Transportation is proud to make such a significant contribution to Governor Cuomo's visionary effort to create this historic trail across New York State. This trail will help encourage bicycle and pedestrian activity, getting people out of their cars and onto this beautiful trail to enjoy outdoor tourism and recreational activities. The new connections to the trail in Central New York get us one step closer to completing the full 750-mile pathway by the end of this year."
Andy Beers, Director of the Empire State Trail, said, "Completion of this project marks a critical milestone in New York State's work to provide a safe trail for bicyclists and pedestrians linking East Syracuse to DeWitt. Additional projects under construction, when completed in December, will provide a continuous 14-mile Empire State Trail Route from DeWitt through downtown Syracuse to the State Fairgrounds and Camillus."
Senator Rachel May said, "I am thrilled to celebrate the completion of the Empire State Trail between the City of Syracuse and the Town of Dewitt. As a cyclist, I applaud New York State and the Governor for their investment in our trail system. This project gives residents and tourists the opportunity to experience our cities, towns, and natural beauty in a new and intimate way. I thank the Lt. Governor for joining us here in CNY to commemorate this event."
Assemblywoman Pamela J. Hunter said, "Local project completions for the Empire State Trail could not have come at a better time. With more people looking for outdoor activities nearby, completed trails offer more space to exercise or get to other recreational areas. I look forward to the statewide completion of the trail."
Town of DeWitt Supervisor Ed Michalenko said, "On a local level we are pleased to be able to connect DeWitt neighborhoods via our own town trail system to the Erie Canalway trail and Ryder Park. This pedestrian bridge is a welcome benefit for families, walkers, runners and cyclists. On a broader level, we are strongly behind the Governor's initiatives and are proud to be a part of the Empire State Trail project, as well as Elevating Erie, which is connecting the western suburbs through the city of Syracuse and into DeWitt. We are big advocates of trails and green spaces because we know they provide greater quality of life and add to the value of our homes and businesses."
To complete the Empire Trail in 2020, approximately 350 miles of new/improved trails are being built. The construction projects are being undertaken by a number of state entities including the Hudson Greenway, NYPA/Canal Corporation, MTA, DOT, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and local governments. The Trail will drive economic growth and boost tourism in communities along its route. Along the Erie Canalway (Albany to Buffalo) and Hudson Valley Greenway (New York City to Albany) the Empire State Trail will be 85% off-road canalway and trails.
Accelerating CNY Rising
Today's announcement complements "Central NY Rising," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $6.3 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan - capitalizing on global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy. Now, the region is accelerating Central NY Rising with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion - and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 5,900 new jobs. More information is available here.