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Lt. Gov. Hochul opens Erie Canalway Trail segment from Lockport to Pendleton

LOCKPORT – It’s now possible to pedal from central Pendleton to Lockport along the banks of the Erie Canal, and in 2018, the missing link in Pendleton is slated for construction.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul led a delegation of dignitaries Tuesday for the formal opening of the 4-mile segment of the Erie Canalway Trail from Fisk and Feigle roads in Pendleton to the Stevens Street Bridge in Lockport. The work, which cost the state Canal Corp. $5.4 million, actually was completed last fall.

Besides the new trail in Niagara County, the contractor, Keller Construction Co., of Albion, added 1,500 feet of trail in Amherst and installed a pedestrian bridge over Tonawanda Creek beside New Road. Pavement markings lead the trail along surface streets from Stevens Street to the Lockport locks.

The Canal Corp. has been working to finish the planned 365-mile trail from Buffalo to Albany, which is now more than 75 percent complete. But the only incomplete piece of the 10-foot-wide asphalt trail locally is the section from Tonawanda Creek Road to the Fisk-Feigle intersection in Pendleton. Canal Corp. spokesman Shane P. Mahar said Tuesday that construction contracts are expected to be bid in late 2017, with work expected the following year.

The Buffalo-Pendleton portion is the most heavily used area of the Canalway Trail anywhere in the state, with an estimated 350,000 annual users, according to the office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Hochul said those users “are really capitalizing on something special.”

The trail “builds on the significant benefits of our great canal communities like Lockport and Amherst,” Brian U. Stratton, Canal Corp. director, said during a news conference on the trail near the Stevens Street Bridge. “We are closer than ever to achieving the goal and realizing the benefits of a completely connected Erie Canalway Trail.”

He said 31 miles of canal trail across the state have been built or designed since Cuomo took office in 2011.

“There were always gaps. You couldn’t access the entire Canal Trail from Amherst to Niagara County. In some cases, you couldn’t even get to the canal, period,” said State Sen. Robert G. Ortt, R-North Tonawanda. “We certainly have begun to rectify that, and I think today is a huge step forward in that connectivity.”

Lockport Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey said, “This trail will add to the quality of life for our residents.” She predicted increased numbers of visitors to Lockport businesses and attractions.

“I foresee this trail being here for hundreds of years,” Town of Lockport Supervisor Mark C. Crocker said. “It thrills me.”

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com