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Proposed $2.12 million trail in Town of Tonawanda aims to be path to safety and community wellness

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Over the past 15 years, federal, state and local governments have increased their investment in new pedestrian walkways and bike lanes, with the burgeoning network of interconnected trails leading to a path not only for safer travel but also for community wellness.

The latest effort is a $2.12 million project aimed at connecting Two Mile Creek Trail with others along River Road in the Town of Tonawanda, announced Wednesday during a news conference at the entrance to the Riverview Solar Technology Park, off River Road. Rep. Brian Higgins said the the new Riverwalk Parkway multi-use trail will connect people to jobs, recreation, parks and views of the Niagara River waterfront.

New Tonawanda path map

"The 1.3-mile path will provide a new connection between Two Mile Creek Greenway Trail and the Niagara River Greenway Trail, which runs along Isleview Park," said Higgins. "This stretch of roadway, which is home to companies that employ over 500 workers, currently has no sidewalks or bike lanes, making pedestrian and bicycle travel difficult, at best."

Each end of the trail will be equipped with HAWK signals to make crossing easier and safer. The trail will also complement the more than 15 miles of trail that already exists in the Town of Tonawanda.

Higgins said the project will receive nearly $1.7 million in federal funding, which is about 80% of the cost of construction, while Montante Solar is expected to provide the town with a grant of about $425,000 or 20% of construction costs. 

State Sen. Sean Ryan said the future of transportation planning in New York must take into account more than just the needs of those operating passenger vehicles. Pedestrians, bicyclists and those who use public transportation have to be part of the equation, too. As part of that effort, the aim of the new trail will be to create a new route to safely connect bicyclists and pedestrians to Isleview Park, the Niagara River and New York's Empire State Trail, he said.

"We've seen since the pandemic, more and more people are out and using the outdoors. The policy we've had in New York State for over a decade is when we look at roads, we don't look at them as just for cars. We look at a multimodal concept," Ryan said. 

The goal of the region's network of recreational trails is to enhance the quality of life for those who use them, said Assemblyman William Conrad.

"You look around here and nature's beauty is all around us, especially in this community. This is giving people opportunity to explore that beauty on foot and by bike. It's ultimately good for our health, wellness and the vibrancy of our community and businesses," Conrad said.

For years, many residents have been denied access to the waterfront because of the region's industrial past, he added. 

"This is really opening up a big footprint for the Town of Tonawanda and our neighbors in the City of Tonawanda," said Conrad.

Town of Tonawanda Council Members Jill O'Malley and Gina Santa Maria joined Higgins and the two state lawmakers for Wednesday's announcement.

"The Town of Tonawanda has a huge linear footage model, and this will help to connect multiple recreational opportunities for our residents," O'Malley said of the project.

Town engineer Matt Sutton said groundbreaking on the trail is set for 2024. 

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