SHOREHAM, NY – On Friday, July 27, Legislator Sarah Anker joined Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone for a bill signing event approving the bonding of funds to advance the Rails to Trails recreational path. The bill, which was overwhelmingly approved by the General Legislature in a bi-partisan effort, authorizes the bonding of $8.82 million for the path, 94% of which is reimbursable through federal grant funds.
The Rails to Trails project is a 10-mile, multi-use recreational path that runs along the former Long Island Rail Road right-of-way. The trail route runs parallel to Route 25A, from Mt. Sinai to Wading River. The design will incorporate the new Tesla Science Museum in Shoreham, as well as the many parks, businesses, and schools adjacent to the trail. The project is funded by approximately $10 million in total, $9.5 million of which is federal grants that have been specifically allocated to the construction of multi-use trails.
The project has received extensive community support and support from numerous clubs and organizations, including Friends of the Greenway Trails, New York Bicycling Coalition, Vision Long Island, and Concerned Long Island Mountain Bikers (CLIMB). The Suffolk County Department of Public Works and Legislator Anker are currently working with these and other local groups on maintenance agreements to assist in upkeep of the trail. In addition, Legislator Anker continues to seek private funding for additional privacy fencing and landscaping along the trail.
“It’s been a long journey after waiting 50 years since the Rails to Trails Recreational Path’s original inception, but I’m happy to say we are currently on track to move forward with construction of Long Island’s most anticipated recreational project,” stated Legislator Sarah Anker. “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 bringing 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.”
“After decades of anticipation we are finally moving forward on the long-awaited Rails to Trails Pedestrian and Bicycle Path project,” said Suffolk County Executive Bellone. “This project will help transform our communities and will not only improve safety but enhance tourism and connect our vibrant downtowns and local restaurants. As a result Suffolk County will be a cleaner, safer and more enjoyable place for all.”
“I would like to thank Legislator Sarah Anker for her leadership and courage on holding the course to make this project a reality,” said Herb Mones of Friends of the Greenway Trail.
“On a community level, a rail trail enhances the life and lifestyle of the residents that live nearby and utilize it,” said Martin Buchman, owner of the Stony Brookside Bed and Bike Inn in Stony Brook. “There are numerous studies that indicate the benefit a shared use paved path does to enhance the quality of life through positive health changes, increased socialization and interaction /engagement within a community.”
“The Rocky Point Civic Association would like to thank Legislator Sarah Anker for all her advocacy efforts regarding the Rails to Trails project,” said Rocky Point Civic President Charles Bevington. “ It has finally come to fruition.”
The trail is currently in the design phase awaiting final review and approval by the New York State Department of Transportation. Suffolk County anticipates breaking ground on the construction of the trail in 2019 and completion in 2020.