The Ocean Parkway Coastal Greenway Shared Use Path, a path for walkers, runners and bicyclists that extends east of Jones Beach, is expected to get a 10-mile, $16.2 million extension by 2021, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who announced the project on Oct. 1.
“This extension will give more residents and visitors a safe, healthy and environmentally sound way to get around Long Island,” Cuomo said.
The New York State Department of Transportation extended the route from Jones Beach east along the Ocean Parkway in 2014. Cuomo christened the 3.6-mile, $3.8 million extension on June 5 of that year.
The 5-mile Ellen Farrant Memorial Bikeway connects Cedar Creek Park, in Seaford, with the Jones Beach Shared Use Path. The Farrant bikeway was the beneficiary of a $3.5 million upgrade earlier this year. The Jones Beach path, in turn, connects to the 3.6-mile Ocean Parkway Coastal Greenway path, which runs east to Tobay Beach. The planned addition will stretch the mixed-use path an additional 10 miles, into Suffolk County. Its end point will be Captree State Park.
In October of 2017, the state DOT held a joint public meeting with the state Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation about the project. There it received overwhelming support from local biking clubs and civic groups.
This spring, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul cut the ribbon on another shared-use path at Jones Beach, a 4.5-mile extension in the barrier island’s West End, connecting to the existing Greenway via the Jones Beach boardwalk.
New beach grass, evergreen trees, bayberry plants and beach plums will be planted along the Ocean Parkway extension, and shaded rest stops will be erected every three miles or so along the path, according to Cuomo. There will also be informational panels detailing the history of Long Island’s beachfront and highlighting the new vegetation and local wildlife. Signs will direct users and show distances to nearby public facilities.
The path, which will comply the Americans with Disabilities Act, will extend the smooth asphalt surface used on previous sections, and will feature standard lane markings and signs. New bicycle parking areas will be installed at Gilgo Beach, Cedar Beach Marina and Captree State Park.
The path will also feature traffic-calming measures for safety, such as curves that will slow bicyclists at driveways, and signs alerting motorists and path users of crossing traffic.
Care will be taken, Cuomo said, to protect the habitat of the endangered piping plover, minimize impacts to existing vegetation and guard against erosion from rising sea and bay water. Nesting boxes for growing wildlife will be installed at a safe distance from the path.
To accommodate summer beach visitors, major construction began after Labor Day weekend. The project is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2021.
Extending the Ocean Parkway Coastal Greenway will add to the 20 miles of shared-use paths built over the past decade on Long Island. By the end of this year, a new path will be completed along the State Route 878, also known
as the Nassau Expressway, in the Town
of Hempstead as part of a $130
million resiliency and safety enhancement project.
“We’ve been ‘pedaling’ this idea [for the Ocean Parkway path extension] for a number of years now,” State Sen. John Brooks, a Democrat from Seaford, said, “and I’m proud to say the time has finally come. This is a most welcome addition to the current pathways that have been a mainstay for local outdoor enthusiasts.”
Locals have been using the path for years, and welcome the extension. “I think it really is great — the openness of the area here on the South Shore and the ability for people to get around on bike and foot,” said Wantagh resident and local business owner Mike Pleines. “I think it will bring more people down here. I would love to do that path in the future.”
Pleines bought his current bike from Brands Cycle & Fitness in Wantagh — a business that expects an increase in local business due to the planned bike path extension. “It’s definitely going to drum up business for us, for sure,” John Cerami, Brands’ manager, said of the path extension. “When we have people come in and rent bikes from us and they ask where to go, we always direct them to the Jones Beach path. It’s so easy, because we’re about a mile from the entrance, and people don’t have to worry about dodging cars on the street, which is a concern.”
“In Nassau County we welcome opportunities to allow residents to safely bike, run, walk or skate — especially in parks and beaches,” County Executive Laura Curran said. “Thank you to Governor Cuomo for his work to complete the extension of the Ocean Parkway Coastal Greenway.”
“The pathway along Ocean Parkway provides our residents with a great recreational experience,” added Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino, “as well as a safe, unique way to travel one of our state’s most picturesque areas.”