The 3.9 mile long trail is composed of two segments on top of a former railroad bed in the Town of Tonawanda and the City of Tonawanda. The railroad corridor was operated for both freight and for passenger service dating back to the 1880’s. Two track systems were in place whereby the westerly set of tracks was primarily operated for passenger and freight service by a succession of companies beginning with New York & Erie Rail-Road Co., thru the Erie-Lackawanna Railway to 1968. The International Railway Company operated passenger service between Buffalo and Niagara Falls from about 1918 to 1937 on the easterly set of tracks. In 1988, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) acquired the right-of-way (ROW) from the Consolidated Rail Corporation thru New York State legislation. The trail is constructed atop the westerly railroad bed.
In 2002, Erie County initiated the rail to trail project seeking federal funding and began working with partners at the New York State Department of Transportation, NFTA, Town of Tonawanda and the City of Tonawanda on the project planning and funding mechanisms as well as the operation and maintenance needs. This trail, constructed in 2016 by Erie County, is operated by the Town of Tonawanda and City of Tonawanda in their respective jurisdictions thru a cooperative agreement with the NFTA.
The trail is a 12' wide asphalt surface which will be added to the Town of Tonawanda Youth, Parks and Recreation Department responsibilities for the section in the town. The trail will be available for the public as the season permits and operated from dawn to dusk.
Where the trail crosses Kenmore Avenue and Sheridan Drive, a High Intensity Activated Crosswalk or HAWK signal will be in place to control the crossing movements of the trail/street crossing. HAWK signals are active by the trail user when ready to cross the road. The signal stop vehicle traffic to allow pedestrians and bicyclists the ability to safely cross. WATCH HOW THEY WORK.
When the trail crosses over Englewood Ave and Brighton Rd, the marked crosswalks will be enhanced with pedestrian activated, solar powered, Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) devices. The RRFB consists of an LED light which flashes when activated by a pedestrian and is intended to alert motorists to yield to those using the crosswalk.