PAINTED POST - A bike trail in the villages of Painted Post and Riverside could receive a major upgrade next year.
The path, which is used by cyclists and pedestrians, is also a key part of the route for the annual Wineglass Marathon.
The villages are seeking about $84,000 from the Empire State Development Corporation through the state's annual competitive economic development funding program.
The Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council recently announced the trail upgrades are on a list of priority projects to be funded. The total cost of the project is expected to be about $420,000, according to Painted Post Public Works Superintendent Larry Smith.
He said the project was conceived in collaboration with Wineglass Marathon officials. It calls for repaving the entire pathway through both villages, and widening it from six feet to 10 feet.
"We all agreed that wider is better," Smith said.
Because the path runs entirely on land owned by the two villages, making it wider won't require the purchase of any new land or the acquisition of right-of-ways, he said.
The villages are seeking another $209,000 toward the project through various grant applications. A $126,000 local share will be gathered through public donations or work done on the project by employees of the villages, which counts toward the matching fund requirement. The project is considered eligible for state economic development funding because the Wineglass Marathon, which follows the path for approximately a mile, is a large event with an economic impact on the area.
"That constantly is getting larger and larger," Smith said.
Wineglass Marathon race co-director Mark Landin said the upgrades will be valuable to the annual race, which goes from Bath to downtown Corning. "It's been an integral part of our course for a long time," Landin said.
He noted that using the bike path makes runners safer. "It allows us to keep people off the streets of Painted Post," he said.
This year's Wineglass is set for Oct. 5, and organizers are expecting nearly 6,000 runners for the marathon and its sister event, the Wineglass Half-Marathon. The bike path upgrades, while a boon to runners once a year, will also be enjoyed by area residents year-round.
Smith said the path is being used more than ever. "We've seen an increase in a lot of pedestrian and bike use," he said.
The Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council will present its proposals to a panel of state officials in September. The governor will likely announce funding awards in October.
If funding is approved, work on the trail would start in 2015.