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NY buys 17-mile corridor for Genesee Valley Greenway in Allegany County

File photo

Walkers travel along the Genesee Valley Greenway near Cuba during an event.


By BOB CLARK

A $400,000 purchase will help expand the Genesee Valley Greenway State Park by another 22 miles, state officials reported.

Purchasing 17 miles of the former Genesee Valley Railroad corridor for $400,000 in the towns of Belfast, Caneadea, Cuba and New Hudson from a private party, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced the purchase would allow for further development on the southern end of the 90-mile trail, which utilizes public roads as well as state-owned trail sections from Rochester to Hinsdale.

The new section, which extends from the Genesee River north of Belfast south to Cuba, offers an opportunity to create “loop trails” within the Genesee Valley Greenway corridor, officials said.

Currently, much of the route of the trail travels along Route 305 or side roads, rather than on dedicated trail surfaces.

“Connecting the Genesee Valley Greenway is an important step along this route for community recreation and safety,” New York State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said. “We look forward to rehabilitating the railbed into a trail and converting railroad bridges into pedestrian bridges. These exciting projects make our parks safer and more welcoming to cyclists and pedestrians and improve access for year-round recreational opportunities.”

Sen. George Borrello, R, Sunset Bay, said that among Western New York’s greatest assets are its parks and natural resources.

“These projects create new Allegany County linkages to the Genesee Valley Greenway State Park and miles of new trails and bridges will increase usage and enjoyment of one of our region’s true recreational gems,” he said, while thanking Gov. Kathy Hochul and Kulleseid for making the investment in quality of life and tourism in the area.

Assemblyman Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda, called the acquisition of the 17-mile former rail line and its planned rehabilitation “wonderful news. … I look forward to exploring the new trails with my family in the near future.”

In addition to the purchase, state officials reported that bridge construction on four parts of the trail in the county have been fully funded by a strategic purchase — New York will advance a $6.25 million “Genesee Valley Greenway Bridges of Allegany County” project, which is funded by a $1.25 million Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation grant and a $5 million Transportation Assistance Program grant announced in June.

Resurfacing work is also to be completed.

According to a 2021 action plan completed by the park, four bridges are needed to improve safety along the corridor, formerly the Genesee Valley Canal and later a railroad right-of-way converted to a multi-use trail. A bridge in Rossburg over Wiscoy Creek, one in Fillmore over Cold Creek, one over drainage in Houghton and one over Caneadea Creek in Caneadea are planned, with estimates between $820,000 and $1.7 million per bridge.

Once finished, there will be 22 miles of continuous trail along the Greenway in the county. The improved route can be used for many activities in all seasons, including walking, hiking, running, cycling, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling.

Long-term plans include various upgrades, as well as extending the trail to Olean — the southern terminus of the Genesee Valley Canal in the 1860s and 1870s.