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750-mile Empire State Trail completed with ‘iconic’ bridge in CNY

Ellen Abbott
WRVO Public Media
Empire State Trail bridge along Onondaga Lake.

The Empire State Trail is now complete in New York state. It includes 750 miles of hiking and biking trails from New York City to Canada, and Albany to Buffalo. That includes linking one of the biggest gaps in the trail in central New York.

There was always a problem weaving the Empire Trail through Syracuse; a 14-mile gap between Camillus and Dewitt. That gap, which runs through the city of Syracuse, baffled Empire State Trail Director Andy Beers.

“This was the most vexing challenge to create this continuous route,” Beers said.

Projects bringing the trail to the city from Camillus and Dewitt were completed late last year. But the biggest of them all, is the $11 million bridge over a span of CSX railroad tracks along the southern shore of Onondaga Lake. It’s now open, and offers a view of Onondaga Lake people haven’t seen for 100 years. Beers called it the capstone project of the trail through central New York.

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO Public Media
WRVO Public Media
A ribbon-cutting ceremony with Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon.

"Once we’re back to tourism, when you’ve all had vaccinations, 2021-22, people are going to come across the state, the country, the world, and Syracuse is going to be one of the must-see destinations for the Empire State Trail,” Beers said.

In the meantime, locals will be able to walk or bike the bridge by way of Syracuse’s creek walk, or the trail along the western shore of the lake. And at night, Onondaga County Transportation Commissioner Marty Voss said the view will be spectacular.

"These lights will all go on, they’re on sensors, and underneath, you don’t see them, but there are LED lights that run along the channels,” Voss said. “So when sensors go off at night, and LEDs go on, it’s beautiful. It’s like something out of a movie.”

This also helps the county work towards finishing its Loop the Lake trail. The next project on that front is construction of the trail on Murphy’s Island set to start in the spring.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.