Friday, September 19, 2014

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Onondaga Lake trail expanding

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Onondaga Lake trail expanding
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The Onondaga Lake Trail is a great place to run, walk and bike. And it's getting longer. Right now, the trail begins at Onondaga Lake Park in Liverpool and ends on the west side of the lake, just north of Nine Mile Creek. Construction is already underway to extend the West End trail. As our Katie Gibas reports, the eventual goal is to finish a trail that will "Loop the Lake."

ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- Having a trail that goes all the way around Onondaga Lake has been in talks since the early 1900s when the lake was an attraction for tourists from all over the state.

"Obviously, we're way advanced in technology, different ways of doing things than it was 25 or 30 or 40 years ago, so it's pretty exciting to see what people are going to come up with and how the ‘Loop the Lake’ can be completed," said Bill Lansley, the Onondaga County Parks and Recreation Commissioner

The project is one step closer to a reality. A 2.5 mile addition that's underway would put the end near the main entrance to the Fairgrounds. When that section is complete, the trail will stretch 7.5 miles.

"It's going to open up everybody from Solvay, Geddes, that end of the city to be able to get on the trail and come all the way around to Liverpool," said Lansley.

The portion of the trail is expected to be completed by this time next year. Meanwhile, there are already feasibility studies underway to figure out the best way to loop the lake.

"We got a great reception from the county and the legislature that they're funding the program to do the design and feasibility study so we can actually continue on and hopefully get down to the Destiny area or Inner Harbor," said Lansley.

Officials say looping the entire lake will be crucial for tourism.

"Last month, we did the Empire State Marathon. It went from the stadium through Onondaga Lake Park, all the way to Baldwinsville, looped and came back and you had to use a lot of public roads and a lot of municipalities were interested in that. We had 2,500 people. If we could do that without ever leaving the park and just doing a loop, that would just increase our usage and have a lot more attention to our park," said Lansley.

Several challenges still lay ahead, including navigating around the railroad bridges, but officials are confident looping the entire lake will be a reality by the end of the decade.

After the current construction is finished, there will be about five miles left to complete, plus the two miles along the Onondaga Lake Parkway. Because Honeywell owns a portion of the land, the loop won't be able to be completed until they finish their lake cleanup project. The target end date for that is 2018.

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