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Black River Trail to be extended one mile in Watertown direction

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Thanks to a $640,000 state Department of Transportation grant, hikers and bicyclists soon can enjoy another mile along the Black River Trail extended in the direction of the city of Watertown.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced earlier this week that the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation received the money to extend the Black River Trail from its parking lot off Ridge Road and west along Eastern Boulevard (Route 3). It will join about 3.3 miles of trails that run toward the village of Black River.

Kevin A. Kieff, Thousand Islands regional director for the state parks office, said the Black River Trail someday will connect with the city’s trail system. The new mile-long section has been in the works for years, even before the Black River Trail was completed a decade ago.

“We were very pleased to be selected,” Mr. Kieff said about the grant.

This will be a planning year for the project, he said. His office will work with the DOT, complete surveys of the land, finish the design and put it out to bid. Work will begin during the spring of 2015 and be completed that summer, he said.

Plans call for a 10-foot-wide asphalt pathway similar to the existing trail. It will allow easy access to the East Hills apartments, he said. Additional parking in that area may be added, he said.

Senior City Planner Michael A. Lumbis was happy to hear the project will be completed, even though the extension will not reach to where the city’s trail begins at Waterworks Park off Huntington Street.

“It’s another piece of the puzzle,” he said, adding he hopes the next stretch to Waterworks Park eventually will be completed.

The city endorsed the project when the state office of parks applied for the funding. The city also applied for, but did not receive, funding for design work for a section of city trails between Waterworks Park and Eastern Boulevard and design work for another section near Newell Street, Mr. Lumbis said.

John K. Bartow Jr., executive director of the Tug Hill Commission, said the extension to the Black River Trail will bring awareness to the river, which has always been a “focus of the Tug Hill Commission.”

He said he hopes this initiative will lead to other enhancements for the river, which he feels is “way underutilized.” In addition, he said, the extension would “improve the public use and enjoyment” of the area.

The funding for the Black River Trail is part of about $67 million for 63 bicycle, pedestrian and multiuse path projects across the state.

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