A new connector in the trail system that traverses New York state was celebrated Wednesday in Schenectady County.
The 5-mile section of the Erie Canalway Trail in Pattersonville, part of the Schenectady County Town of Rotterdam, fills one of the several gaps in New York’s trail system.
Andy Beers, Executive Director of the Empire State Trail, said there are three legs of the trail, which will all come together to the south, west, and north of Albany.
“The Erie Canalway trail is already more than 80 percent done but there are these gaps,” said Beers. “And these gaps really prevent people from being able to enjoy the trail in its entirety. So each of these projects is closing another gap, towards by 2020, the entire trail will be completed: 750 miles across New York State.”
The new section of trail in Pattersonville, between Schenectady and Amsterdam, is part of the planned trail from Albany to Buffalo.
Designed for bikers and pedestrians, this section of trail will also be used in the wintertime by snowmobilers.
Harold Alikonis, President of the Town of Florida Snowmobile Club, which will help maintain the trail during the winter, says the trail will be great for local businesses.
“Snowmobilers like to eat. They have to buy gasoline. So it’s all that stuff rolled into one,” said Alikonis.
Rotterdam Assemblymember Angelo Santabarbara appeared at the trail’s opening with his son, Michael, who has autism. The paved trail is accessible to those with disabilities.
“It’s something everyone can use, something everyone can be a part of,” said Santabarbara. “Certainly my son will be a part of this as well. We’re looking forward to walking this new trail and enjoying some of the new views, but it’s also about safety too.”
The trail follows Route 5S, a busy road that travels along the Mohawk River.
The City of Amsterdam was recently awarded a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant, and has been focusing on improving access to the river – a pedestrian bridge over the Mohawk opened to the public two years ago.
Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort says connecting Schenectady and Montgomery County by trail will be a “big boost.”
“This is where we need to be going and what we need to be doing so it’s nice to see a mission be put into action, and it’s just another really positive day for our local region,” said Ossenfort.
The trailhead in Pattersonville is marked with a brand new parking area and signage. Andy Beers says the state will work to bring new visitors to the trail.
“We’re gonna be promoting it in a variety of ways – through a new mobile website and other things to really maximize the benefits of the trail to promote people to come here,” said Beers.