When the Tonawanda Rails-to-Trails is finally built along an old, abandoned rail line in the Town of Tonawanda, it’ll be operated and maintained by the town under an agreement approved Monday by the Town Board.
Once Erie County builds the nearly four-mile trail, planned for a north-south right of way owned by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, it will turn over control to the town, said Town Engineer Jim Jones.
“They’ll turn it over to us for maintaining the grass, picking up litter, maintaining vegetation and the signs,” he said. “And then we can also advertize it as an asset within our recreation and parks department.”
The county may call for bids on the project this fall and construction may begin in spring 2015. The trail would begin at Kenmore Avenue, cross Englewood Avenue near Parker Boulevard, run along Center Avenue to north of Sheridan Drive and end at State Street in the City of Tonawanda.
The trail will link other town recreation spots such as Lincoln Park, Kenney Field, the Ken-Ton Family YMCA on Belmont Avenue and Cardinal O’Hara High School. It will also eventually hook up with the North Buffalo Rails-to-Trails project, which begins at the LaSalle Park and Ride station on Main Street.
The trail will be marked for “seasonal use only” from dawn to dusk, Jones said at the afternoon work session. Supervisor Anthony F. Caruana said there had recently been concerns on whether the trail would cause runoff of water.
“They are not impacting the drainage at all with the project,” Jones told the board.
“The trail is going to go on top of the rail. Water that’s shedding now is going to continue to shed.”
The land is the former Erie Lackawanna Railway bed, which last saw train traffic in the early 1980s. The NFTA took it over in 1988 and railroad tracks and ties were removed in 2003. Design plans call for a 12-foot-wide paved asphalt path lined by two feet of stone on each side and brush cleared 10 feet beyond that.
Meanwhile, the two-mile-long Sherwood Greenway has opened and Erie County may hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony next month, Jones said.
That trail goes south from Sheridan Drive and runs parallel to Riverview Boulevard, through the park-like campus of Praxair. It then heads west along the southern right of way of Woodward Avenue west to Kenmore Avenue, where it jogs northwest to Sheridan, then southwest along Sheridan to Riverwalk.