Renewal is Enroute to Erie Boulevard as a New International Competition Opens

Oct 28, 2015

The canal was first used in 1821 as man-made water route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes.
Credit Erie Canal Museum /

  Can the wide strip of asphalt that is Erie Boulevard regain some of the attraction of the old Erie Canal?  The Town of Dewitt and City of Syracuse are holding an ideas competition to improve boulevard and canal called “Elevating Erie.”  

There are a couple of problems here.  For one, Erie Boulevard is not as attractive as it might be for shoppers and the businesses that call it home. 

  "We continue to hear complaints from our residents and business owners alike. The infrastructure and deteriorated conditions along  Erie Boulevard are unacceptable. "    

Dewitt Town Supervisor Ed Michelanko says there could be other benefits as well.

"Public park space is established at the whitewaters, asphalt medians are cared for and landscaped. We want better pedestrian and bicycle  accommodations."  

The other issue of concern is trying to link a stretch of the Erie Canalway Trail.  The recreational trail is drawing more than 1.5 million users-a-year, who spend more than 200 million tourism dollars. 

"Lets  envision what those statistics could be if the entire Erie Canalway Trail was fully finished, especially if there was a true trail between Camillus and DeWitt."

Parks and Trails Fran Gottschalk would welcome better connections.

Meanwhile, Dewitt Town Planning Director Sam Gordon says the business purpose can be linked to the canal recreation one.

"What we are trying to do is look at creative ways of how we link that Canalway System into Erie Boulevard that makes the whole experience better."

“Elevating Erie” is looking for design ideas for the canal way trail and different sections of the boulevard. The competition will focus on four sites:

  • Boulevard, a 4-mile stretch of Erie Boulevard between Syracuse and DeWitt representing part of the 14-mile gap of the Erie Canalway Trail in Central New York
  • Block, a one block area located between Teall Avenue and Peat Street in the City of Syracuse
  • Branch, the intersection of Erie Boulevard East and Towpath Road is the location of a former widewaters for the historical Erie Canal 
  • Bridge, this site connects the terminus of the Old Erie Canal State Historic Park over Interstate 481 to Towpath Road

Ideas submitted by mid-December will be judged, then presented to the public next Spring. The wining team from the overall connector will receive a $3000 cash prize. 


Erie canal map for 1903 showing the present and proposed system for enlarging the canal that was completed in 1918.
Credit Elevating Erie /