LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Oneida Rail Trail
The Oneida Rail Trail is a proposed 11.3-mile non-motorized, multi-use trail located in the City of Oneida. The Oneida Rail Trail (ORT) will preserve and utilize existing rail beds (no tracks remain) to create a cultural corridor along three former rail lines: the New York Central, West Shore Division, and New York Ontario & Western. These former rail beds run through the heart of downtown Oneida and connect to the Village of Wampsville to the west and the City of Sherrill to the southeast.
Through the use of these rail beds, the Oneida Rail Trail will link three communities, multiple neighborhoods, businesses, offices, parks, tourist destinations, education facilities, and other trails including the Old Erie Canal Towpath to create a new economic engine in the area and source of community pride.
Currently two sections of the ORT are officially open for public use. A 1 mile section along the former West Shore Railbed. The trailhead and parking are located at Hubbard Place. Another 0.5 mile section adjacent to Oneida High School is also officially open for use. Go to Maps & Directions. Many sections of these former railbeds are being used by the community as an informal trail system now, and the goal of the Oneida Rail Trail is to improve these greenspaces and connect them together.
Another 3.9 miles of the trail is in the process of being developed through funding awarded by the NYS Department of Transportation. This section stretches from the Old Erie Canal State Park through the Village of Wampsville and then east along the former New York Central Railbed and West Shore Railbed into the downtown of Oneida. For more info go to NYS DOT TEP/TAP Funded Segment.
One of the unique features of the ORT project is that because it involves three intersecting railbeds it is not just an out and back trail but instead will offer the option for a loop around the city.
The ORT is a City of Oneida trail system. The project is identified in City’s Comprehensive Plan to “formally designate railroad right-of-ways as greenways and initiate implementation of trail system.” The project partners represent a collaboration across various City departments with support from Madison County and the Oneida Improvement Committee, the non-profit partner. An ORT Committee was assembled to help move the project from a goal in the City’s Comprehensive Plan to reality.
The ORT Logo you see above was designed by Oneida native John Rice. John has been working as an outdoor artist and illustrator for more than three decades. Born and raised in Oneida, John’s roots are firmly reflected in much of his work. Clients include: Outdoor Life, Field and Stream, Ralph Lauren Fabric, Sweetheart Designs, Highlights for Children, Scholastic, NY Times Magazine, Esquire, ESPN Sports and now he can add the Oneida Rail Trail to his list!