Work is picking up once again on the North Shore Rail Trail project, also known as Rails to Trails. Plans are for a 10-mile bike and walking path along LIPA-owned right of ways from Wading River to Mount Sinai.
Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said Medford-based DF Stone Contracting, which was tapped for the Rail Trail project, has finished grading and creating the subbase layer on the path from Crystal Brook Hollow Road in Mount Sinai to Sound Beach Boulevard in Miller Place. Workers are still laying the subbase layer heading further east.
Though there was a period during the pandemic when work stopped for about a month in order to create a safety plan for the project, the company should be ready to start laying down asphalt some time in October. That part of the project will run from Crystal Brook Hollow Road up to Sound Beach Boulevard and should be finished by the end of the year, the legislator said.
Though the project may have to break for the winter, the hope is to have the entire path open to the public by summer of fall 2021.
“It’s literally moving along,” Anker said.
The $8.82 million trail is being funded through federal and state grants, along with Suffolk County funds. Despite major financial difficulties that Suffolk County faces due to COVID-19 and the subsequent business shutdowns, Anker said the funding for the trail is definitively set.
If anything, she said the ongoing pandemic has made even more of a case for the trail.
“The pandemic has made people understand how important it is to have outdoor recreational locations,” she said.
This week Anker and officials from the Village of Shoreham, including Mayor Brian Vail, former mayor Ed Weiss met with officials from Verizon, Altice and PSEG Long Island to discuss the trails path. Plans are to go across the old stone bridge that arches across Woodville Road. To make the path accessible, workers would need to run the electrical lines under the bridge instead of over it. The bridge would also need new guardrails and fencing, particularly fencing that curves inward so people on the bridge can’t throw items over and onto cars passing underneath.
There are some more spots along the trail that present challenges. One is a power substation at the corner of Apricot Road and King Road in Rocky Point, where Anker said the path will need to snake around the substation rather than through it. Another is along Echo Avenue in Sound Beach, a relatively highly trafficked road where the path would need to cross. The legislator said she and the county Department of Public Works would need to work with the New York State Department of Transportation in order to make such a place safe to cross.
This article has been amended to correct the ownership of the right-of-ways on the North Shore as well as how far workers have added the subbase layer on the trail.