Senators Successfully Delivered Extremely Competitive RAISE Grant To Create A Regional Trail Loop Connecting WNY And Southern Tier; Federal $$$ Will Help Complete The Planning, Design, And Permitting For Construction

Southern Tier Trail Will Join Erie-Cattaraugus Rail Trail With Genesee Valley Greenway, Connecting WNY Communities From Buffalo To Hinsdale To Spur Economic Growth Across Region

Schumer, Gillibrand: Over $7 Million Fed Boost Will Finally Put Long Desired Southern Tier Rail Trail On Path To Being Completed!

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced a major over $7 million grant for Cattaraugus County through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) highly competitive Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program to complete the planning, preparation, and design of the Southern Tier Trail (STT). This long-desired project will connect trails between the City of Buffalo and the southern end of the Genesee Valley Greenway in Hinsdale in Cattaraugus County, primarily following the old Buffalo-Pittsburgh rail corridor. The senators said that this significant federal funding will bring new recreation-based tourism traffic to the historic towns and villages across Western NY and the Southern Tier, investing in both growing access to our outdoor resources and economic growth along our main streets.

“The Southern Tier Trail will help increase access the natural beauty of Western New York, giving a breath of fresh air to our downtowns with much desired boost for outdoor tourism,” said Senator Schumer. “This rail-trail, primarily along what was once one of the central economic corridors of the old Buffalo-Pittsburgh rail will help hike up much needed economic growth for scenic rural communities across Western New York.  I am proud to deliver this major $7+ million boost, a direct result of the historic increases we secured in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to help bridge the gap in one of the final pieces of the puzzle for the Southern Tier Rail Trail in Cattaraugus County .”

“Today, I’m thrilled to be announcing that the Southern Tier Trail will receive over $7 million in federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This funding will allow New Yorkers and visitors alike to enjoy the beauty Western New York has to offer. I am proud to have worked to secure the funding for this project and will continue to advocate for Western New York to receive the federal resources it needs to thrive.”

Howard VanRensselaer, Chairman, Cattaraugus County Legislature said, “That’s wonderful for our municipalities in Cattaraugus County! The increase in tourism will be an exciting boost to the businesses along the trail corridor.  It is a great opportunity to bring in a new outdoor tourism destination to our county that will be a catalyst for community revitalization for our small communities here.”

Norm Marsh, Cattaraugus County Legislature Chairman of the Development and Agriculture Committee said, “The RAISE grant is a tremendous step forward for the Cattaraugus County trail system in connecting larger systems in the region.  This will be a huge economic boost for many of our small municipalities.  The Southern Tier Trail system will give many opportunities for the restaurants and retail stores in our communities.”

“Thanks to the support from Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation for the development of the 2021 Southern Tier Trail Feasibility Study and continued capacity through the New York State Department of Health’s Creating Healthy Schools and Communities program, GObike has been collaborating with Cattaraugus County along with the towns and villages throughout the corridor to bring this trail to fruition”, stated Justin Booth, Executive Director at GObike Buffalo. “Throughout this process, residents and stakeholders consistently expressed a desire for the trail to support active transportation as well as recreation – creating a safe space for people of all ages and abilities to safely walk and bicycle within their communities.”

Specifically, Schumer and Gillibrand said this over $7 million in federal funding will go towards Cattaraugus County’s “Southern Tier Trail Planning and Design Project,” investing in the completion of the planning, environmental, design, and permitting for the construction of an approximate 52 miles of trail that will connect the Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail in Erie County with the Genesee Valley Greenway, crossing through 11 small municipalities and the Seneca Nation Allegany Territory. The STT will be the connector between the Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail and the Genesee Valley Greenway, creating a regional trail loop in Western NY. Schumer and Gillibrand said the benefits of building a regional trail system have been shown to represent a huge economic return on the money invested into trail projects throughout New York State by bringing significant foot traffic to small businesses and energizing main streets. This model for economic development and revitalization has been successful across Upstate New York, including the Empire State Trail, parts of the Finger Lakes Wine Trail and other areas like Lake Placid that have leveraged natural attractions to spur economic activity, which then spills over to the entire community.

The senators explained that the over $7 million RAISE grant (formerly known as BUILD or TIGER), Cattaraugus has just received is a highly competitive national grant program through the U.S. Department of Transportation which funds transportation projects of national and regional significance. The senator secured historic increases for the program in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, at $7.5 billion over five years, with $1.5 billion per year. The recent Fiscal Year 2022 spending bill included an additional $775 million, bringing the total amount for FY22 to $2.275 billion.