Filling in the gaps

For many area bicyclists and walkers, the Erie Canalway Trail begins and ends at the Erie Canal Park in Camillus.

What was once the Erie Canal in is now Erie Boulevard, and as a result, the biggest gap in the statewide trail is the stretch between Camillus and Dewitt.

Trail supporters are hoping to close that gap.

Russ Andrews, who represents Syracuse on the Canalway Trails Association New York Board, says that before that can happen, the rest of the trail must be connected. Difficulties and expenses in connecting Camillus to Dewitt include obtaining an easement from Honeywell and finding a path through downtown Syracuse. A clear-cut path has yet to be navigated.

"Until it becomes the gaping tooth in the smile that is the trail, there won't be enough political and public pressure to get it done," Andrews said.

CTANY, an all-volunteer organization, and Parks and Trails New York held a press conference Tuesday Nov. 9 at the Erie Canal Park to announce their first annual status report on the progress of "Closing the Gaps." The 360-mile trail from Albany to Buffalo is about 75 percent complete as an off-road path, and Camillus to Syracuse is one of six major gaps cited in the report.

While no new trail construction took place in 2010, progress was made on funding in three places.

In Wayne County, the Board of Supervisors agreed to match a $1 million State Department of Transportation grant to connect Newark to Lyons. Construction is expected to begin within the next two years.

Funds from the New York Transportation Bond Act, approved in 2005, were finally released after two years of pushing by CTANY and Parks and Trails New York. A portion of these funds will go to connecting the gap in Rome, where construction is expected to begin in about two years.

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