GObike is finalizing a plan for an 80-mile Southern Tier Trail that will link Buffalo and the Southern Tier via bicycle, foot, and horse (with some snowmobiling). GObike, together with Alta Planning & Design, completed a feasibility study that demonstrated the ability to created an impressive shared-use pathway between the City of Buffalo and the Town of Hinsdale, NY.
The plan is a continuation of efforts to design and implement a statewide greenway network plan that will connect people and places in seamless ways that will promote healthy living and an outdoor lifestyle.
The 80-mile Southern Tier Trail plan includes the restoration of the fabulous Cascade Bridge in Springville, NY.
Ultimately, the Southern Tier Trail would interlink with the statewide greenway network plan – the 750-mile statewide Empire State Trail (the longest multi-use state trail in the nation), and 90-mile Genesee Valley Greenway.
- The Southern Tier Trail will connect 21 Western New York towns and villages
- The outlined route will include 75-miles of off-road multi-use trail and five miles of on-road facilities
The trail would use former rail corridors to connect historic town centers, while spotlighting natural resources throughout the region. Funding for the study and the community outreach was made possible thanks to the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Funds, which were administered by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.
“With continued improvements to the Shoreline Trail, connections to the Empire State Trail network and Ontario, along with the opportunity to complete a regional loop through the proposed Southern Tier Trail and the Genesee Valley Greenway, the Western New York region has the potential to become a world class bicycling destination,” said Justin Booth, GObike executive director. “We are excited to release the final plan for the Southern Tier Trail to provide local communities across Erie and Cattaraugus counties a blueprint for neighborhood-level projects.”
Key findings from the study include:
- An 80.1-mile route has been identified and categorized into 23 projects, including nine high- priority projects selected to connect major population centers and extend or enhance existing trails;
- The trail will extend from Ridge Road in Lackawanna to the Genesee Valley Greenway trail in Hinsdale, NY, and have 24 trailheads and access points;
- If preferred routes are implemented, 94% of the route (74-miles) will be off-road;
- Equestrian and snowmobile access will be maintained in the southern portion of the trail; and
- Stabilizing the Cascade Bridge, an elevated trestle bridge in Springville, NY, will provide a signature destination for the trail.
Moving forward, GObike will pursue further community engagement, seek out funding for high level projects, and develop governance and maintenance plans.
“It is exciting to see all of the new possibilities that trails like the Southern Tier Trail bring to the region,” said Ben Anderson, Special Projects Planner at Seneca Nation of Indians. “We hope to make connections with the Southern Tier Trail, Pat McGee Trail, Pennsy Trail, Ohi:yo’ Gateway Trail, Finger Lakes Trail, and North Country Trail that meet right here at the Onönohsagwë:de’ Cultural Center and encourage healthier outdoor lifestyles while boosting tourism for the Seneca Nation in the meantime!”
“The Village of Springville enthusiastically supports the Southern Tier Trail Feasibility Study because it will enhance and extend the Village’s rail trail which we opened in 2016. This study is a vital blueprint on how to increase tourism in our Village and region because our experience shows that the rail trail both serves our residents and attracts visitors,” said Mayor William Krebs of the Village of Springville. “We are especially interested in the improvement to the Cattaraugus Creek high level bridge to the south, and the connection to the ski resort and county park to the north.”
“The Town of Ashford enthusiastically supports the creation of a future rails-to-trails opportunity in Ashford. Rehabilitation of the Cascade Bridge as the Gateway to Ashford and Cattaraugus County is a major step forward in attracting tourism and other adventure seeking people to all that we have to offer,” said John Pfeffer, Town of Ashford Supervisor. “The Town of Ashford is the gateway to the Enchanted Mountains of Cattaraugus County.”
“The City of Olean is proud of the pedestrian and bike trails that already exist in our community and we are pleased to be included in the Southern Tier Trail Feasibility Study,” said Mayor William J. Aiello, City of Olean. “The creation of a network of trails will allow both visitors and residents to experience the beauty and serenity our region offers; and ultimately the Southern Tier Trail will have positive economic impacts on our community.”
“The Southern Tier Trail will be an important asset to western NY, enhancing the quality of life of local residents and connecting communities in a way that brings people together and spurs economic development,” said Lindsay Zefting, Principal and Professional Engineer for Alta Planning and Design. “It was an honor to work on this trail project that will have such a positive influence on the region.”
As the implementation of yet another regional trail gets closer to fruition, it’s more important than ever to create a more bike-friendly Buffalo. While some advancements have been made over the last few years, since the passing of the Complete Streets initiative, there is a long way to go. The bike-friendly streets and trails that exist must be tied together sooner rather than later. And enforcements must be made to dissuade cars and trucks from utilizing bike lanes as drop-off zones for businesses. It’s time to get serious about biking in Buffalo.