The wheels have been put in motion to create biking and hiking trails that connect places of interest across Suffolk County.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has announced the county is receiving a $250,000 grant from the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC) to help make the plan happen.

The funds, which were given to the county’s Department of Economic Development and Planning, will be allocated for research and studies to find the best possible routes. It will cost $312,807 to find network gaps and identify areas that need improvements for a trail.

“A hike and bike network will expand transportation options, connect our downtowns, and create a transit-oriented framework needed to attract more young people to Suffolk County,” Bellone said. “This funding is a critical first step to help us achieve this goal and make Long Island a more competitive region.”

It’s more than just making the county more accessible, county officials agreed.

“Establishing a county-wide hike and bike network goes even further to connect significant local resources and existing downtowns and transit hubs as an important step toward attaining healthier, walkable and bike-able communities,” said Theresa Ward, commissioner of the Department of Economic Development and Planning.

A biking and hiking alternative to driving works hand-and-hand with Bellone’s Connect Long Island initiative, which is a regional transportation plan to spur economic activity in the county.

“As a very passionate [Transportation Council] member and former co-chair, county executive Bellone has been at the forefront of promoting innovation, increasing transportation options and reducing emissions for Suffolk County,” said the council’s executive director, José Rivera.

Unsplash stock photo by Eddy Lackmann