On the week marking the 195th anniversary of the Erie Canal’s opening, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Paul D. Tonko held a press conference today to call to extend the authorization of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission. The members both announced legislation this week that would extend the Commission’s authorization from its current sunset date of September 30, 2021 to September 30, 2034.
“The Erie Canal is a part New York’s rich history of innovation. Since its construction it has been a critical part of our economy, most recently as a central part of our tourism economy in Upstate New York. The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor has helped sustain strong communities for the millions of New Yorkers who call the Erie Canal Corridor home,” said Senator Gillibrand. “As we approach the bicentennial of the Erie Canal, we must ensure the Commission has the full support of Congress to continue to implement the Canalway Plan and protect and provide access to the historical, cultural, and environmental resources the canal provides. I’m proud to introduce this bicameral legislation with Congressman Tonko to reauthorize this important program for years to come.”
“For nearly two centuries, our Erie Canalway has acted as a staple of our region’s history and heritage as well as a vital source of economic energy, generating hundreds of millions of dollars for the Upstate New York economy each year,” Congressman Tonko said. “We must work to protect and preserve our Canalway, which gives so much to our communities. I am proud to join with Senator Gillibrand in introducing this commonsense legislation to put our Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission on sound financial footing and deliver the resources necessary to ensure our precious waterway can be enjoyed for generations to come. I thank the many members of our New York delegation who are supporting this effort and I call on our colleagues in the House and Senate to pass this extension and assure a vital future for one of our nation’s most historic sites.”
Barbara Blanchard, Chair of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission, said, “We truly appreciate Congressman Tonko and Senator Gillibrand’s steadfast support of the more than 200 communities that are connected by our legendary waterways. Erie Canalway heritage-based activities are producing positive community and economic development results that benefit millions of upstate New York residents. We look forward to working with all of our partners at the federal, state and local levels as we keep up this exciting momentum.”
The legislation has bipartisan, bicameral support, with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Representatives Brian Higgins (D-NY), Joe Morelle (D-NY), John Katko (R-NY), Tom Reed (R-NY), Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), Antonio Delgado (D-NY), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY).