GObike Buffalo and Alta Planning & Design have announces the early stages of outreach and planning for an 80-mile multi-use Southern Tier bike and walking trail, extending from Buffalo to the Town of Hinsdale (the southern end of the Genesee Valley Greenway). The Buffalo-Pittsburgh corridor trail will ultimately connect 20 cities, towns, and villages, and is expected to cost an estimated $100-$110 million.
The potential trail path extends throughout rural areas, while connecting numerous populated areas, offering plenty of scenic opportunities, places to stop, rest, eat, and sleep. The Southern Tier Trail route (mostly off-road trail) includes the federally railbanked 27-mile Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail and the recently opened 1.8-mile Pop Warner Trail in Orchard Park, NY, with links to the 750-mile Empire State Trail and the 90-mile Genesee Valley Greenway.
The route crosses through Salamanca and the Seneca Nation of Indians, the Cattaraugus Mountains, and the scenic 1890 Cascade bridge that connects both counties.
One of the most exciting and inspirational elements of the plan includes the restoration of a historic circa 1890 Cascade bridge along the route, which is anticipated to be a destination unto itself.
Proponents of the trail say that the route has the ability to transform communities via enhanced regional connectivity, educational opportunities, safety measures, and stepped up alternative transportation options and resulting environmental benefits. There are also positive health implications, especially now that we are seeing just how important it is to get outside walking and biking, not to mention the importance of possessing a healthy state of mind throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Then there’s the economic impact brought about by the tourism element, as well as job creation.
“As we have experienced during the COVID-19 crisis, our parks, trails, and greenways are a vital resource to the Western New York region.” – Southern Tier Trail team
A feasibility study is currently underway, along with identifying financial resources at hand – the project launch is supported by funding from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Funds, administered by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.
As for the timeline, the team is at the initial planning stage, with intentions on seeing the project completed within next five years, depending on the type of support that it garners.
Next up, communities will be invited to visit the Southern Tier Trail website, where they will be able to make comments, view interactive rail-to-trail corridor maps, take a survey, express opportunities and challenges, and learn more about the stakeholders.
There will be a public outreach for the project, which will kick off next week with a series of one-on-one stakeholder listening sessions. GObike will host a virtual public meeting on Wednesday, May 13, from 6 to 7 pm. A registration link is available on the STT website.
All online listening sessions are scheduled from 6 to 7 pm on the below dates. If you’d like to be included in a listening session please contact Ashley Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- April 23rd – Municipalities, Operations & Maintenance
- April 27th – Property Owners & Homeowners
- April 28th – Municipal Leaders
- April 29th – Nonprofits / Trail Users / Community Groups