More than a dozen projects to improve and extend the state’s Canalway Trail were awarded $1.3 million in grants by the state Canal Corp. on Wednesday.
The grants spread throughout 10 counties upstate were issued as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative. Canal Corp. Director Brian Stratton said the grants should help promote economic development along the 524-mile canal system.
“These projects will spur tourism, recreation and job creation in upstate New York where the canal system remains a vital economic engine,” he said in a statement.
Schenectady County is receiving a matching $50,000 grant toward rebuilding a 2-mile section of the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail running through Rotterdam Junction. The funding will also support building a handicapped-accessible water fountain, in addition to providing money to install historic and environmental signs along the bike path.
“It’s part of the overall effort to upgrade the trail in Schenectady County,” said Ray Gillen, the county’s commissioner of economic development and planning.
Also approved as part of the grant was $132,500 to fund the final design and construction of a multiuse segment of the Champlain Canalway Trail. The project will extend several miles of trail in Halfmoon and Waterford.
Halfmoon grant coordinator Nelson Ronsvalle said the project will finally bring the existing 5 miles of trail to the Waterford town line, once it’s completed sometime by 2014. He said the piece is yet another step toward finally joining 61 miles of off-road trails extending between the village of Waterford and Whitehall.
“We’ve created a nice plan that really lays out some preferred routes,” he said.
Waterford was another recipient of grant money through the Canal Corp. The town was awarded $76,000 to make needed repairs in and around the Canal Harbor Visitor Center, including energy efficiency improvements and technology upgrades.
Nearby Clifton Park was awarded $75,000 to develop multipurpose visitor access to a number of sites along the Mohawk River and the Old Champlain Canal route.
Farther north, in Saratoga County, the National Heritage Trust was awarded $55,000 to provide docks and other infrastructure on the Champlain Canal for waterfront access to the Saratoga Historic National Battlefield.
Up to 40 percent of the grant funding is going to the council’s priority projects. These included everything from trail extension projects to work that will expand public access to the canal waterfront.
“These investments in the Canalway corridor will encourage economic growth and inspire visitors to reconnect to the historic waterway that made New York the Empire State,” Thruway Authority Chairman Howard Milstein said.