New bike trails are coming to the North Shore.
In a press conference on Friday, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced nearly $9 million in secured funding for the construction of its long-planned Rails to Trails Pedestrian and Bicycle Path project.
The multi-use pathway will run along an abandoned railway, helping connect Port Jefferson to Wading River via biking and hiking.
The railway was abandoned in 1938 and is now owned by the 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 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 project has been a long time in the making after multiple unsuccessful attempts to receive proper funding dating back more than a decade.
“Over the past 19 months, local officials worked tirelessly across party lines to restore the funding so that the project could continue forward,” said a Suffolk County spokesperson.
“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 10-mile pathway, which will be double-laned and 10-feet-wide, will begin at Crystal Brook Hollow Road in Mount Sinai and run east to Wading River-Manor Road.
Construction bids will go out in the fall of 2018, with a contract expected to be awarded by the end of this year.
According to officials, the project is expected to break ground this winter or next spring.
“Today marks another positive step toward creating a unique corridor in Suffolk County that will connect communities and promote healthy lifestyles,” said LIPA chief executive officer Tom Falcone at the press conference. “This project was a truly unique example of joint-use of LIPA property and a result of productive utility, County, Town and community partnership.”
Top: Steve Bellone announcing the funding of the Rails to Trails project. (courtesy photo.)