A plan released today by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo will include developments to the Amsterdam Lock 11 bridge and property as part of a wider five-year, $300 million effort to leverage the former Erie Canal to boost tourism, mitigate flooding, enhance irrigation, increase recreational fishing, and restore wetlands.
According to a release on the governor’s website, the initial $165 million phase of the plan is set to begin this year and will include $25 million for five projects including two at the Lock 11 property along Route 5 in Amsterdam.
The first proposed project will be to upgrade the existing lock and dam structure into a pedestrian bridge. The bridge will connect to the Empire State Trail, which runs along Route 5s. It will also feature hydroelectric powered lights to create an “interactive” experience that will highlight the engineering of the movable dam structure. A similar project is also proposed for Canajoharie.
The second proposed project will aim to turn the historic Guy Park Manor into a “hospitality destination”, providing overnight accommodations to travelers along the Empire State Trail.
According to Amsterdam Community and Economic Development Director Amanda Bearcroft, the projects will be managed and funded directly by New York State, and will not require any matching funding from the City of Amsterdam.
The proposed plans are based on work by the Reimagine the Canals task force which Cuomo launched in May 2019.
According to the release, Cuomo will recommend the New York Power Authority Board, which now oversees the Canal Corporation as a subsidiary, approve the $300 million investment over the next five years at the board’s January meeting.
“When the Erie Canal was created in the 19th century it set the state and the nation on a path to prosperity, and this year we will re-purpose the canal to fit our state’s 21st century needs,” wrote Cuomo. “This bold and visionary plan to transform this historic waterway will build on the success of the Empire State Trail, grow tourism across Upstate New York, improve resilience of today’s canal communities and ensure the economic sustainability of the waterway into the future.”