The proposals unveiled in the Governor’s annual State of the State address set the course for a 21st century New York State Canal System. BuroHappold will serve as lead consultant to facilitate and support the Reimagine the Canals Task Force, which developed and evaluated many of the proposals within the Governor’s initiative.
According to BuroHappold, the Erie Canal is the backbone of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s broad ranging initiative including economic development and resilience, community revitalization, ecological restoration, and opportunities for new tourism and development. The Governor’s address recommended a $300 million investment over the next five years with a first phase of $165 million to begin in 2020.
This announcement represents an innovative vision for the enhancement of the 350 mile long historic waterway into a 21st century waterway and recreation corridor.A. Shay, BuroHappold Engineering’s Cities practice
The development and investment work for the Erie Canal, and the 225 communities its waterways pass through, will begin in 2020 with a $100 million economic development fund to invest in canalside districts and a separate $65 million investment in solutions to help prevent ice jams and related flooding in the Schenectady area. The remaining $135 million of the plan's funding will subsequently be allocated to research recommended by the Reimagine Task Force, as well as to solutions related to flood mitigation, invasive species prevention and ecosystem restoration, according to state officials.
The $100 million economic development fund will include projects that adaptively reuse canal infrastructure to enhance water recreation, tie the Canal's new recreational improvements to the Governor's Empire State Trail, celebrate historic canal structures, and develop unique canalside attractions and activities. The BuroHappold team consulted on the visioning for these capital projects. Roughly $25 million of that will be allocated immediately to a set of initial projects including a pedestrian bridge, a hospitality destination, interactive cultural installations, a whitewater sports course, and the canalside pocket neighborhoods.
As described in the Governor’s State of the State address, the Reimagine the Canals initiative presents an unprecedented opportunity for economic revitalization and environmental restoration. The vision and implementation of this initiative will demonstrate a new paradigm for our adaptive reuse and management of large-scale public infrastructure, adds BuroHappold.