SCHUMER: FED FUNDS ARE THE MISSING LINK THAT WILL FINALLY CLOSE THE LOOP ON ONONDAGA LAKE’S MULTI-USE TRAIL SYSTEM; LOOP-THE-LAKE TRAIL COULD SOON BE A MAGNET FOR TOURISTS AND SYRACUSE BICYCLISTS AND HIKERS; SENATOR LAUNCHES MAJOR PUSH TO SECURE MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR FED INVESTMENT
Schumer Pushes For Nearly $10 Million In Funding To Complete Final Section Of Onondaga Lake Bike & Pedestrian Trail – What Was Once Considered “Most Polluted Body Of Water In US” Could Be A Continuous Trail Network, Connecting Visitors & Residents To Local Businesses & Regional Attractions
Federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant Program—Which Schumer Has Secured for NY Projects In The Past—Provides Federal Funds to Important Transportation Projects That Enhance Quality Of Life & Boost Economy
Schumer to DOT: Looping Onondaga Lake With a Multi-Use Trail Will Be The Cherry On Top to Onondaga Lake’s Revitalization
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today visited Syracuse to announce a major push to secure a competitive federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that would finally complete the Loop the Lake trail system. The resurgence of Onondaga Lake and its lakeside properties has been a long time effort and this federal funding is the last piece of the puzzle when it comes to connecting a trail network around the lake, providing increased waterfront access, commercial and recreational opportunities and more. Schumer said this year is Onondaga County’s best chance in decades achieve this vision dating back to 1928 and will help to make Onondaga Lake a recreational magnet for residents and visitors alike.
“Onondaga County’s proposed plan to complete the Loop the Laketrail system would be a game changer for the county and all of Central New York. The completion of this critical trail system has real potential to better connect residents and visitors alike with the kinds of local businesses they can invest in and become a magnet for regional tourism, as well as stand as a testament to the success of the hard-fought restoration of Onondaga Lake,” said Schumer. “This project is the definition of what TIGER grant funding is all about, and that’s why I am urging the DOT to award the nearly $10 million in funding that will make this project’s completion a reality.”
Schumer explained that the Onondaga Lake Multiuse Trail Project has been underway for years and is critical to expanding waterfront access and improving recreational opportunities in Central New York. The entire trail project – which when completed will include a 13-mile continuous bicycle and pedestrian trail system around Onondaga Lake – will also connect to other popular regional trails including the Erie Canal Trail and the Creek Walk Trail. However, in order to complete the project there is a 2.8 mile section of the trail located southeastern shore of Onondaga Lake in Syracuse that must be completed. This section represents the final phase of the Multiuse Trail Project and without federal funding to help cover the $13.3 million cost of this section the project will remain incomplete and the full potential of this regional recreational trail network will not be realized. Therefore, Schumer pledged to fight for $10 million in federal TIGER funding to complete this final and critical segment of the trail and to make the Multiuse Trail Project vision a reality.
The Onondaga Lake Multiuse Trail Project is aimed at completing a trail network that connects the various communities and attractions located along its shores. This completed trail network would provide uninterrupted access to the lake area’s unique natural, recreational and economic amenities for the residents of the City of Syracuse. The project would also allow access to, and the enjoyment of, several efforts to reinvent Onondaga Lake as a valuable community resource.
Onondaga Lake was once the site of thriving tourism, fishing and salt production industries through the 19th Century and into the early 20thCentury. However, early industrial activity along the lake’s western shore degraded its environmental quality to the point that its waters were deemed unsafe for swimming by 1940, and by the 1970s fishing was banned on the lake. Onondaga Lake and its shoreline were eventually considered to be the most polluted water body in the United States.
However, after years of remedial efforts and hundreds of millions of dollars in investment by both public and private sector stakeholders, Onondaga County and its communities are witnessing the dramatic restoration of the lake and its shoreline. The efforts to clean up areas that were once considered contaminated have led to vast improvements in Onondaga Lake’s environmental conditions. Today, the Lake attracts more than 1.5 million visitors annually and is a seasonal home to a growing concentration of the American Bald Eagles.
Schumer explained that these successful remediation results of the cleanup effort have led the lakefront and surrounding areas to be targeted for a number of private and public development projects, including the effort to complete the bicycle and pedestrian loop around Onondaga Lake. Schumer said this effort would not only provide greater public accessibility to the communities and areas surrounding the lake, but also serve as a testament to the success of environmental restoration. That is why Schumer is pushing for significant federal funds to complete the network of trails encircling Onondaga Lake and its nearby communities.
Schumer was joined by Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney.
“Our East and West shore trails are enjoyed by over a million runners, walkers, bikers and others each year. Our 'Loop the Lake' vision is to continue until the trail is complete all the way around Onondaga Lake,” said Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney. “This funding would be an important piece to bridge the final gap in this continuous trail system as well as connect with the Creek Walk and Erie Canal Trail. We appreciate Senator Schumer’s efforts to help secure this grant.”