Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

May 01, 2019

New York State Announces Construction Of 14 Miles Of Empire State Trail In Central New York

Construction Will Close Biggest Gap in Erie Canalway Section of Statewide Trail - See Map Here

Project Will Create Bicycle Access to the State Fair from Downtown Syracuse

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced construction is underway on more than $36 million of Empire State Trail projects in Onondaga County this year. The projects will complete a continuous Empire State Trail cycling and pedestrian route through Syracuse by eliminating the current 14-mile gap through Camillus, Syracuse and DeWitt. The projects will close the largest gap in the Erie Canalway section of the Empire State Trail, which is expected to be completed in 2020 and will create a 750-mile pathway from New York City to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo.

"These projects mark another significant step forward in completing the Empire State Trail, an outdoor tourism and recreation destination for both residents and visitors alike," Governor Cuomo said. "Upon completion, this trail will connect communities across the Finger Lakes, Central New York and the Mohawk Valley, driving tourism and boosting economies in these crucial regions of the state."

"The Empire State Trail spans from Buffalo to Albany and New York City, and we're continuing its expansion to enhance the overall experience and increase recreational opportunities," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "The construction of 14 additional miles of the trail in Central New York will close a large gap in the statewide trail and provide enhanced access with a link to the State Fair from downtown Syracuse. These construction projects build on our efforts to expand bicycle and walking routes, increasing tourism and strengthening the economy."

A series of trail projects by New York State and local partners will help link the center of Syracuse with existing trails west to Rochester and east to Utica. 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. Projects include:

  • 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."

State Parks Acting Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "New York State continues to make great progress on Governor Cuomo's visionary project to build the largest state multi-use trail network in the nation. These Empire State Trail improvements will encourage Central New Yorkers to connect with one another, enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle, and explore New York's historic pathways."

Richard A. Ball, Commissioner of Agriculture said, "This trail ties together our great state and will help realize Governor Cuomo's vision of a vital, growing New York. We are pleased to be a part of this important project and look forward to helping to educate New Yorkers on the amazing assets our state has to offer.

Troy Waffner, New York State Fair Director said, "The Fair is in the business of connecting New Yorkers and creating economic growth through tourism. It's a perfect fit for us to host this gateway and we are proud to play a small role in helping to link New Yorkers to the amazing beauty of our state."

Senator Robert Antonacci said, "The construction of 14 miles of the Empire State Trail will allow for ease of access for residents and tourists alike to bike, run, or walk throughout the County and across the State. The new trail will help build the local economies by creating access for millions of individuals who would use this trail annually."

Senator Rachel May said, "As an avid cyclist, I am thrilled that New York will be investing in the Empire State Trail and closing the gap in the Erie Canalway between Camillus and Downtown Syracuse. This opens up a vast array of transportation and recreational opportunities for Central New York. By connecting our communities with bike- and pedestrian-friendly pathways, we encourage people to use diverse transit options and be more active, we open access for those who do not own vehicles, and we promote health and environmental protections. I appreciate Governor Cuomo's leadership on this issue."

Assembly Member Pamela Hunter said, "By constructing additional trails in Central New York and closing the largest gap in the Erie Canalway to connect the region to the Empire State Trail, we are ensuring that more of the state is accessible for cycling, hiking and tourism. More New Yorkers will be able to enjoy the State Fair and see all that CNY has to offer."

Assembly Member William Magnarelli said, "The Erie Canal is one of the treasures of upstate New York," said Assemblyman Magnarelli. "Using the Erie Canal paths to make Central New York more cycling and pedestrian friendly is a wonderful use of our resources."

Assembly Member Al Stirpe said, "By closing the gaps in the Empire State Trail, we can help Central New York families and visitors alike take full advantage of the 750-mile trail. I'm particularly excited about the proposed bike access gate at the state Fairgrounds, which will give people one more way to access this Central New York summer mainstay. I'll continue working with local leaders to further expand family-friendly recreational opportunities in New York State."

County Executive J. Ryan McMahon said, "These projects will provide a critical link for cyclists, runners, walkers and others to get out and safely discover and enjoy more of Onondaga County, making our community more attractive for residents and visitors alike. These projects will help further drive economic development in our community and we are excited the scenic Loop the Lake Trail will become one of the top highlights of the greater Empire State Trail."

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said, "The completion of the Empire State Trail increases the opportunities for outdoor recreation in our community and provides additional, safe routes for residents and visitors alike to travel through our urban core and to destinations like the State Fair, Onondaga Lake, and neighboring towns. I'm thrilled that New York State, Onondaga County, and Honeywell Corporation are contributing to the enhancements that will improve and complete the trail by next summer."

Town of DeWitt Supervisor Ed Michalenko said, "This project represents the power of partnership; citizens, local, and state government coming together not only to improve the quality of life in our region via the Empire State Trail, Erie Canalway, and Elevating Erie projects... but to provide tangible economic development opportunities now and into the future for neighboring communities, tourism, business, and the environment."

Camillus Supervisor Mary Ann Coogan said, "Eliminating the current 14 -mile gap through Camillus, Syracuse and Dewitt will make the Empire State Trail Gateway a wonderful asset to our community. Thank you to the New York State Parks, to Honeywell and all involved in this great project."

As part of the commitment to invest and build infrastructure to support New York's economy, the Governor is creating the Empire State Trail, which when completed in 2020 will create a 750-mile bike trail and walking pathway from New York City to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo. A recent study projected that 8.6 million residents and tourists will visit the entire 750-mile trail annually.

To complete the Empire Trail by 2020, approximately 350 miles of new/improved trails will be built. The construction projects will be undertaken by a number of state entities including the Hudson Greenway, NYPA/Canal Corporation, MTA, DOT, 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.