Paved Multi-Use Path to put Abandoned Railway Property to Use After Over 45 Years.
Suffolk County, NY - July 31, 2018 - Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced that all necessary funding has been secured for the construction of the $9 Million Port Jefferson-Wading River Rails to Trails Pedestrian and Bicycle Path project. The County Executive signed a bond resolution appropriating the county share of funds for this highly anticipated project along the North Shore of Suffolk County. The funding will provide for the construction of a paved multi-use recreational path within railway that has been abandoned since 1938 now owned by Long Island Power Authority.
“Suffolk County is home to some amazing recreational attractions like our world class beaches, natural parks and countless outdoor activities that attract people from all over the world,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “As an individual with a genuine passion for nature, I look forward to seeing the completion of this project and hope that it encourages more people to explore all of the exciting recreational activities Suffolk County has to offer.”
The funding for this project comes at a crucial time in preserving Long Island’s renowned sites. In the past, County Executives had unsuccessfully attempted to move this project forward. The funds had previously been allocated for the project but at one point sat stagnant for more than five years, and was in danger of being cancelled and repurposed. Over the past 19 months, local officials worked tirelessly across party lines to restore the funding so that the project could continue forward.
Legislator Sarah Anker said: “It’s been a long journey after waiting 50 years since the Rails to Trails Recreational Path’s original conception, but I’m happy to say we are currently on track to move forward with construction of Long Island’s most anticipated recreational project. The path will not only provide a safe location to bike, walk, jog or run in our community, it will also support our local businesses along Rt. 25A from Mt. Sinai to Wading River. The hurdles that I have experienced in moving this project forward have strengthened my skills at facilitating significant community projects. In addition to overcoming many obstacles, I am proud to have moved this project forward by getting all levels of government onboard and working with local not-for-profit organizations and the community. Just as the railroad linked adjoining towns together, increasing community unity, so will the Rails to Trails Recreational Path, which is now back on track and moving full steam ahead.”
LIPA Chief Executive Officer Tom Falcone said: “Today marks another positive step toward creating a unique corridor in Suffolk County that will connect communities and promote healthy lifestyles. This project was a truly unique example of joint-use of LIPA property and a result of productive utility, County, Town and community partnership.”
The double-lane, 10-foot-wide trail will be split in half by a yellow line. Features will include kiosks at trailheads, quarter-mile markers and railing when the trail meets an incline. Where the path intersects with high-traffic roads, there will also be flashing yellow signs to signal those using the trails to stop, and warnings on the street side for drivers to use caution. In an effort to create ecotourism along the trail, community members can visit the Tesla Science Center, access downtown Rocky Point and browse in shops all the way into Mount Sinai. Residents can also stop at the various hamlets to grab a bite to eat with friends and family.
The historic trail will allow for an improvement in recreational options for residents as well as promote local tourism throughout Suffolk County and compliments the County Executive’s vision for an interconnected hiking and biking trail network throughout the county. Connecting more Long Island neighborhoods to coastal areas and parks with a network of accessible walking and biking trails would improve recreation options, make residents healthier, and support the island’s tourist economy.
The trail is in its final design phase and the county plans to release a bid for construction in the fall of 2018, with a contract expected to be awarded by the end of the year. Weather dependent, the project could see a shovel in the ground in Winter of 2018 or Spring of 2019.
The path will provide the opportunity for biking and hiking with multiple access points throughout the corridor. This is the initial piece of a new comprehensive hike-bike master plan Suffolk County is launching to develop a network of hiking and biking trails connecting regional assets like parks, waterfronts, downtown areas and train stations.
The federal government will fund 94 percent of the project ($8,320,000) and the County will fund the remaining 6 percent ($500,000) for a total project cost of $8,820,000. The proposed path will begin at Crystal Brook Hollow Road in Mt. Sinai and will extend eastward for approximately 10 miles to Wading River-Manor Road in Wading River. The trail will connect the towns Port Jefferson Station, Mount Sinai, Miller Place, Sound Beach, Rocky Point, Shoreham and Wading River providing safer travel paths to improve pedestrian safety and avoid busy roads.