A bike path running from EPCAL all the way to Jamesport is set to move forward, as Riverhead Town prepares to submit its plans to the state.
The town received $3.16 million in federal stimulus money in 2009 for the creation of the path, which could be used for bicycles and pedestrians. It also can be used for sidewalk creation, as well as for widening and resurfacing roadways to allow for bike paths and sidewalks, officials said.
The path has been in the design stages for the past two years, but the town must now submit a plan for the path to the state Department of Transportation by the end of October, officials said.
Town engineer Ken Testa said the original plan the town had was for the path to begin at Grumman Boulevard and head west to Edwards Avenue in Calverton. However, there were concerns about putting it there because there are wetlands and a cemetery in the area, so the start of the path was moved to Route 25, by the new ball fields at EPCAL.
From there, it is now proposed to go east on Route 25, south on Edwards Avenue to West Main Street, then up Mill Road, over to Pulaski Street, where it would connect with existing state bike paths on Elton Street and Hubbard Avenue. From there, a new town bike path would link with that path and continue down Peconic Bay Boulevard,
and would then link either with existing state paths on Route 25, or new proposed bike paths on Manor Lane and Herricks Lane in Jamesport, culminating at Pier Avenue, which leads to the Iron Pier beach.
“What we were trying to do was tie in sites and destinations,” Mr. Testa told the Town Board at its work session Thursday.
“This would pass Martha Clara, Jamesport Manor Inn, the Hawkins Inn, Iron Pier Beach … there’s a lot of destinations for people to get to by bicycle,” Mr. Testa said.
The bike path also aims to reduce vehicle traffic and cut down on carbon dioxide pollution, he said. The state is hoping the path will be extended east across the North Fork.
“Some of these roads need to be widened,” Councilman John Dunleavy said. “I’m looking at Pier Avenue. Walkers are afraid to walk on that road, never mind bike riders.”
The project does involve widening some roads, while others that are sufficiently wide just involve striping and signage to indicate the bike path, Mr. Testa said.
The state Department of Transportation also did archaeological studies along Manor Lane, Pier Avenue, Herricks Lane and Peconic Bay Boulevard, and the town is awaiting the results of those studies, Mr. Testa said.
Manor Lane and Herricks Lane are areas that may have archaeological concerns, he said. In recent years, members of the Shinnecock Nation have said there were Native American burial grounds along Manor Lane.
The archaeological studies were only needed in areas where the town is proposing sidewalks or road widening, he said.
Town Board members say they’re not certain sidewalks will fit in on some of the roads where they are being proposed by the engineering department.
“I don’t know that Manor or Herricks Lane are really conducive to sidewalks,” Supervisor Sean Walter said, suggesting it could change the character of those areas.
Councilman George Gabrielsen said those streets also have farms, and the tractors would tear up the sidewalks.
Mr. Walter also questioned if residents would oppose sidewalks on Peconic Bay Boulevard. Mr. Testa said the proposal only calls for putting sidewalks on Peconic Bay Boulevard in the area between South Jamesport Avenue and the town’s South Jamesport Beach.
Mr. Testa said the town can submit the plans by the end of October and still make changes afterward. He suggested the town hold a public information meeting on the plan, an idea board members liked, although no meeting has been formally scheduled.