Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail Scores Huge Win

Western New York’s trail network got a major boost last month, when a 49-year railbanking agreement was signed to allow for the construction of the 27-mile Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail southeast of Buffalo. Once complete, the trail will be the longest of its kind in the region.

The agreement, between the nonprofit Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail, Inc. (ECRT), one of the groups to receive support from PTNY through our Healthy Trails, Healthy People program, and the Buffalo and Pittsburgh Railroad, owner of the line, will allow for the construction of the multi-use recreational trail. The agreement includes 50 years of renewal options. “We’re thrilled to have a signed agreement so we can start building the trail,” said Deborah Fenn, ECRT’s co-chair. “Our goals are to protect and maintain the trail as a natural, cultural and historic resource while providing a safe, welcoming place for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy nature and outdoor recreation.”

The first 1.7 mile segment of the trail, known as the Springville Pop Warner Rail Trail after Springville native, football legend Pop Warner, opened in 2016. The remaining trail will be built in sections following community outreach, securing funding, and completion of a visioning plan. When complete, the trail will feature historic rail depots, quaint villages, woodlands, marshes, farmlands, popular ski areas, and a spectacular high-trestle bridge.

The Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad was supportive of the creation of the trail, with Marketing Director Kevin Bowser saying that ECRT and the local communities “value our railroad history, the natural attributes of the corridor, and the outstanding recreation and economic potential the trail will bring to the community.”

Moving forward, the ECRT will seek funding for economic studies and plan design and will meet with local community leaders to discuss next steps. ECRT will also set up local engagement meetings with landowners, community members and other stakeholders to discuss preferences for trail surfaces, activities and access points, and to address privacy and safety concerns.

“We’re proud that we helped the Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail get off the ground. The vision and persistence of the people advocating for the trail has been remarkable,” said Robin Dropkin, PTNY Executive Director. “Kudos to them and all the other trail advocates throughout New York State who are making trails happen.”

The Trail was funded in part by a grant from the Springville Griffith Institute Community Educational Foundation. More information on the trail’s progress and the work of the ECRT can be found here.