The trail will connect 20 Western New York towns and villages, and link to the 750-mile statewide Empire State Trail and 90-mile Genesee Valley Greenway. Community outreach, adjusted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, includes one-on-one listening sessions with project stakeholders and a virtual public meeting on May 13. Visit gobikebuffalo.org for more information.
GObike is kicking off community outreach this week for an 80-mile shared-use bicycling and pedestrian pathway between the City of Buffalo and the Town of Hinsdale, NY.
The proposed Southern Tier Trail incorporates the 27-mile Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail and will connect 20 Western New York towns and villages with links to the statewide 750-mile Empire State Trail and the 90-mile Genesee Valley Greenway.
GObike hired Alta Planning & Design to complete a planning and feasibility study for the project. The study and outreach 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.
“The Buffalo Niagara region has the potential to become a world-class bicycling region. With the Empire State Trail nearly complete, the continued expansion and improvement of the Shoreline Trail, and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation’s $50 million commitment to multi-use trails in Western New York, our region is on track to become a booming bicycling tourism destination,” said Justin Booth, GObike executive director. “The Southern Tier Trail will join New Era Field, KeyBank Center, and Canalside, as well as Allegany State Park as a signature attraction for Western New York.”
“Cattaraugus County is very excited to be a part of this important project. After completing our County Wide Trail System plan, we found that one of our top priorities is to create a regionally connected trail system,” said Katrina O’Stricker, Development Specialist, Cattaraugus County Department of Economic Development Planning and Tourism. “By bringing all of our municipalities and stakeholders together, we hope to be able to create a viable plan to move forward.”
To help inform the planning process, GObike is seeking public input on the project. Due to current limitations on public gatherings, GObike has moved public outreach initiatives online.
Current opportunities for the public provide input include:
Visit the interactive Southern Tier Trail project webpage, which includes a project survey, project newsletter sign up, public comment box, and project map (gobikebuffalo.org); and
Attend the Southern Tier Trail virtual public meeting from 6 to 7 pm on Wednesday, May 13.
GObike has also invited stakeholders including municipalities, community groups, and homeowners to one-on-one listening sessions, hosted this week. In-person public meetings are scheduled for late summer and early fall to review and gain additional input on preferred alternatives and trail use.
Throughout the country, advocates and urban planners are converting rail corridors into multi-use pathways, with notable projects including Buffalo and Tonawanda’s Rail-to-Trail, which receives an estimated 300 visitors per day, the High Line in New York City, and the Virginia Creeper Trail in Virginia. From the nearly 25,000 rail-to-trail miles in the United States, rail-to-trail research organizations such as Rail-To-Trails Conservancy have found the following benefits:
Increased health and recreation opportunities for residents,
Positive economic impacts from bicycle tourism,
Creation and protection of linear green space to preserve habitats and protect ecosystems, and
Connectivity between urban and rural areas to the natural, historical, and cultural splendor of the region.
About GObike Buffalo. Sponsored by Independent Health, GObike promotes active mobility options, trails and greenways, and complete streets in WNY. Our previous projects include the Niagara Fall Bicycle Master Plan, leading outreach for the Buffalo Bicycle Master Plan Update, and complete streets policy development throughout the Western New York region. For more information, visit us at gobikebuffalo.org. Visit gobikebuffalo.org for more information on the Southern Tier Trail.
About ECRT, Inc. Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) corporation formed in 2008 to serve as trail manager for a 27-mile recreational trail on the Buffalo Pittsburgh Railroad (B&PRR) rail line. In 2018, ECRT, Inc. and B&PRR filed a long-term railbanking agreement with the Surface Transportation Board to allow for trail use and further improvements.
About the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Funds. The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Funds were established at the Community Foundation to provide support to four areas that were important to Mr. Wilson: caregivers, community assets, design and access, and youth sports. Endowment funds, like these created to honor Mr. Wilson, are designed to grow over time and provide funding for charitable causes according to a client’s wishes.