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State unveils $300M plan to transform Erie Canal for 21st century

BuroHappold consulted to the initiative to transform the canal network

Governor Cuomo has announced an unprecedented initiative for the Erie Canal to reignite economic and environmental resiliency across New York State.

BuroHappold, a global practice creating sustainable solutions for cities, infrastructure, buildings, campuses and cities that consulted to the initiative, applauded the proposal to repurpose the Erie Canal to grow regional tourism, reduce flooding, improve irrigation, restore wetlands and support outdoor recreation such as fishing.

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 served 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.

The Task Force issued its full set of findings to the Governor this week in the Reimagine the Canals Task Force Report.

According to BuroHappold, the Erie Canal is the backbone of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s broad-ranging initiative including economic development, resiliency, 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 this year.

“This announcement represents an innovative vision for the enhancement of the 350-mile-long historic waterway into a 21st-century waterway and recreation corridor,” said Alice Shay, an associate in BuroHappold Engineering’s Cities practice.

“As leader of the Task Force, BuroHappold helped shape the initiative’s guiding principles of bolstering environmental resilience, restoring natural ecosystems, and sparking economic development for canalside communities across New York,” added shivam Jumani, a senior consultant in the Cities practice.

“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 repurpose the canal to fit our state’s 21st-century needs,” said Governor 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.”

The Reimagine the Canals Task Force builds on the ideas generated through the Reimagine the Canals competition that BuroHappold’s Cities group ran last year for the New York Power Authority (NYPA), which oversees the Canal Corporation.

The competition led to the implementation of Erie Armada, a three-day brewing industry festival and boat race, as well as Canalside Pocket Neighborhoods, a new model for waterfront living.

Over the past two decades, BuroHappold has consulted with public authorities and private organizations across the country on projects that creatively reimagine under-performing infrastructure into people-friendly public spaces that generate jobs, improve the environment, provide recreation, and draw residents and visitors.

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