The Erie Canal opened the West. It provided the raw materials, the labor, new ideas and the visionary pioneering spirit to an emerging America. The Canal put NYC’s ports into overdrive and provided the backbone for the economic engine that powered New York, cementing our legacy as the Empire State.
Today, the Canal still has a small role in the transportation of goods, but tourism in the Canal’s most prominent contribution to the communities it serves. The Canal is an economic force of another type, bringing in tourism dollars and helping the revitalize the small communities on its banks.
The Canalway Trail, too, is a great economic benefit to New York. The first comprehensive study of the Erie Canalway Trail visitor, commissioned by Parks & Trails New York (PTNY) and funded in-part by the New York State Canal Corporation and the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, found that the Erie Canalway Trail (ECT) experiences more than 1.58 million visits per year. Spending by these ECT visitors generates approximately $253 million in economic impact and $28.5 million in sales and income taxes and supports 3,440 jobs in the local economies within the trail corridor.
PTNY has touted the Study to support its “Close the Gaps Campaign” and the non-profit hopes that the positive economic results will instill government, business and tourism officials with the confidence to invest in additional ECT marketing, promotion, economic development, and trail enhancement efforts. Each year, mile by mile, the trail improves, off-road gaps are completed, and new community links are formed. Of course one of the most apropos new links to the Erie Canalway trail, which in Albany shares the nomenclatures Corning Preserve Trail and Mohawk Hudson Bike Hike Trail, is the Livingston Avenue Bridge. Imagine the benefits of providing an attractive gateway for visitors to the region that could in theory, bring their bikes up from NYC, depart from the Rensselaer Train Station, and then take a single day ride or better yet a multi-day trip along the Erie Canalway Trail. That 1.58m visitors figure could skyrocket, so too could economic impact in very desirable net new spending.
We don’t need a wedding of the waters to make this connection, we need a meeting of the minds and action from our state, federal, and private partners to make the Livingston Avenue Bridge a critical link to a modern, sustainable, and thriving Erie Canalway Trail.
Read PTNY’s full Economic Impact report here.