State lawmakers announce $136K grant for Erie Canal scenic overlook project in Tonawanda (WBEN)

Originally published in WBEN on .
Erie Canal swing bridge

Tonawanda, N.Y. (WBEN) - Some residents of Tonawanda or frequent walkers of the Empire State Shoreline Trail may be familiar with the Tonawanda Swing Bridge on the Erie Canal.

State representatives Senator Sean Ryan and Assemblyman Bill Conrad announced Thursday $136,000 in funding via grant allocated for a new scenic overlook project in the City of Tonawanda adjacent to said swing bridge.

"The project will give folks who are already out riding their bikes and walking along the trails, one more scenic spot to stop and take in the beauty of the canal. The finished product will include new landscaping, lighting and it'll highlight the cultural and historic significance of the Erie Canal," said Sen. Sean Ryan.

This area of trail along the Erie Canal is also a popular fishing spot. The funding will also be utilized to accommodate the fishermen, as well as provide a space for rest for the trail users.

"...having some amenities here for people to be able to stop. We talked about a fire pit, we talked about seating, we talked about a picnic area, utilities to access for the community. They even pitched lighting up the swing bridge in the background. That was something that we were looking at. These are great opportunities to take advantage and stop here in the City of Tonawanda," said Assemblyman Bill Conrad.

In addition, this funding will help address an erosion problem, a few feet near the Shoreline Trail that could prove hazardous to those who don't see the gap.

"We've got a concern with erosion, which is coming to the bike path. Once it comes to the bike path, then our our link between here, all the way through New York State, is broken. We want to make sure that does not happen," said Tonawanda Mayor John White.

This grant is part of a $24.3 million allocation awarded to 56 municipalities made possible through the Regional Economic Development Council Initiative.

The project is currently underway, according to White. "We're getting people to do the digging and put some barriers up and protect the erosion, that's our first concern."

As far as timeline goes, Mayor White says, "it's a process" and could take about 9 months minimum. "I think to keep it as natural or as historical as possible will be the key, and that's up to our engineer and the people we hire. So we're looking forward to that."