A 10-mile recreational trail from Port Jefferson to Wading River under construction since the 1970s is officially open to the public.
The North Shore Rail Trail is a multi-use trail built along the Wading River Railroad, which was abandoned in 1939 and is now owned by the Long Island Power Authority.
This continuation of the Green Trail, which runs from Setauket to Port Jefferson Station, provides a safe outlet for people to run, walk, hike or bike and will provide amenities such as fuel depots in the future. bicycles.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker, other local officials, community members and advocates celebrated the momentous occasion with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 10.
“As a community, we needed that, and my number one priority to make that happen was and continues to be public safety,” Anker said. “Making sure our residents, especially our children, have a safe place to bike, jog, walk, do whatever brings them to the sun and this beautiful community.”
When Anker took office in 2011, she made completing this trail one of her top priorities and received support from local cycling and walking groups, community members and others. stakeholders.
Anker formed the Rails to Trails Roundtable in 2016 with representatives from each civic association in its district where they discussed community concerns about the North Shore Rail Trail and how they plan to maintain it.
After the trail opened in 2019, the pandemic hit Suffolk County and put the project on hold.
After pandemic complications, supply chain issues and poor weather, the Suffolk County Department of Public Works and DF Stone Contracting worked to finally make the $8 million project a reality.
The North Shore Rail Trail is part of Suffolk County’s Walking and Cycling Master Plan, which is an overarching vision to create a connected network of walking and cycling trails for transport, recreation, tourism and tourism. economic development.
The plan recommends over 1,200 miles of cycling facilities, which would put 84% of Suffolk County residents within half a mile of a hiking or biking facility.
“Suffolk County roads are consistently on the national list of most dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians,” said Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn. “That’s the kind of vision we need to turn things around.”
Marty Buchman, an avid cyclist and owner of the Stony Brookside Bed & Bike Inn, approached the crowd with a broken leg and crutches to explain why Long Island needs more recreational trails like this.
“For the second time in five years, I was the survivor of what could have been a fatal bicycle accident,” Buchman said. “Cycle lanes are essential… Suffolk County was never designed to contain this automotive infrastructure, and it’s time for bikes to stop competing with cars.”
Anker added that the North Shore Rail Trail provides an environmentally friendly transportation alternative that will reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality and encourage healthier lifestyles.
“I’m a dog with a bone, and that bone wouldn’t go anywhere,” Anker said. “This project was going to happen… It took a lot of bonding and a lot of cooperation, but we’ve proven that when we focus on the goal and work together, we can be successful.”
Top photo: The inauguration of the North Shore Rail Trail. (Sarah Anker’s Facebook page).