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The Times
  • Tourism expected to grow along Erie Canalway Trail

  • Recreation along the Erie Canal waterway, which opened May 1, continues to see growth as the state Canal Corp. focuses efforts on closing the gaps along the Erie Canalway Trail. A planned expansion will create more than 40 miles of continuous trail from Little Falls to Amsterdam.

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  • On any given day, bicyclists and runners can be seen taking advantage of the trails along the Erie Canal.
    Recreation along the waterway, which opened May 1, continues to see growth as the state Canal Corp. focuses efforts on closing the gaps along the Erie Canalway Trail.
    Canal Corp, Director Brian Stratton said the trail generates $40 million annually from those who use the trail to bike or run. About 1.7 million people take advantage of the trails.
    “It’s important we do anything to close the gaps,” he said.
    There currently are 18 miles of trail construction planned or going out to bid, he added.
    Construction on a one-mile segment in Little Falls is expected to be completed in June.
    “It provides the opportunity to get the cyclists off the road and onto the trail,” Stratton said.
    David Taylor, co-owner of The Inn at Stone Mill, said it will improve safety — taking cyclists coming from Herkimer off Route 167 sooner.
    The village of Frankfort also is waiting on the Canal Corp. to give up roughly 12 acres of property near the marina in order to move forward with an expansion planned with an $113,812 grant, village Clerk Karlee Tamburro said. The village plans to construct campsites, recreational trails, a kayak and canoe launch, and improve fishing access.
    Once this happens, Tamburro said the village would seek to purchase the property below the $121,000 market sale price from the Canal Corp. because it only plans to use $90,000 of the grant on the land purchase.
    Canal Corp. officials said there is a public hearing June 6 at the Frankfort Village Hall. They anticipate the sale of the property within the next couple of months.
    Taylor said the Little Falls expansion not only will benefit those who use the trails, but his business as well.
    “The inn itself, we get bicyclists from all over the country,” he said. “They love New York state and they love the trail.”
    Stratton pointed out that last year during Cycling the Erie Canal Bike Tour, about 500 cyclists had to go down state Route 167 coming from Herkimer to Little Falls.
    “It’s always nice to be on a dedicated trail,” he said. “This will help to continue a great section of our trail not only in Little Falls but down to the Herkimer Home.”
    This expansion will create more than 40 miles of continuous trail from Little Falls to Amsterdam|
    Stratton said there still are about 65 miles of trail throughout the state to complete.
    What else is going on?
    Beyond the Canalway Trail, Stratton said the Canal Corp. is preparing for its largest commercial traffic in about 20 years. He anticipates almost 150,000 tons of grain and farm products to be shipped throughout the canal season, which typically runs from May 1 to Nov. 15.
    Page 2 of 2 - The Erie Canal has seen an increase in commercial tonnage in the last few years. About 45,000 tons last year and 10,000 tons in 2011, Stratton said.
    “This year is going to be very exciting for us because the canal is going to be experiencing one of its largest material shipping years,” he said of grain and corn coming from Canada. “We’ve been doing a lot of dredging work for that.”
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