Bikers, Riverhead Town officials make push to complete bike paths

08/24/2012 4:00 PM |
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Town officials including Councilwoman Jodi Giglio review bike path plans with former councilman George Bartunek, who initiated the plan to encircle EPCAL with a bike path.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Town officials including Councilwoman Jodi Giglio review plans with former councilman George Bartunek, who initiated the plan to encircle EPCAL with a bike path.

Riverhead Town will be seeking additional grant money to complete an 8.9-mile bike path around the Calverton Enterprise Park, according to Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, who toured the path along with members of the town’s alternative transportation committee Friday.

The first three miles of the path were paved along Route 25 using a $100,000 grant that was originally intended for a downtown ice rink, but since the ice rink plans weren’t moving forward Councilwoman John Dunleavy got help from Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) to redirect the money to the path, officials said.

That path is already used by bikers and is located just inside the fence along Route 25 at EPCAL, a former naval weapons preserve. It starts at the new town ball fields and continues to the eastern end of EPCAL, where the paving ends just south of the Calverton Industries sand mine. The town hopes to complete that path.

On the west side, near the ball fields, the plan is for the bike path to run north-south along Line Road, an existing yet overgrown road that runs inside the fence near the inactive western runway, which Grumman once used to test F-14 fighter jets.

From the southern end of Line Road, the path would head east along River Road, mostly inside the fence.

But, the area inside the fence along River Road is currently unpaved and uncleared. There also are spots where the path would have to be rerouted out of the EPCAL property and onto River Road to avoid sections inside the fence still under remediation by the U.S. Navy, as well as other environmentally or archaeologically sensitive areas, such as the Wells Cemetery, Ms. Giglio explained.

Town officials will now try to determine how much it will cost to clear and pave the remaining parts of the path around EPCAL.

The tour on Friday included highway superintendent George Woodson, town engineer Ken Testa and town geographic information system technologist Robert Hubbs, as well as members of the committee.

Those town officials will not try to determine how much it will cost to clear and pave the remaining parts of the path around EPCAL.

The News-Review was alerted to the tour by Artie Johnson, a retired Suffolk County police officer who taught bicycle safety for 17 years and is a member of the committee, as well as a biking enthusiast.

“If you don’t get the press involved, it will never get moving,” he said. “And I’m 70 years old. I want to use the bike trail.”

The idea for the trail actually came from Wading River resident Don Hawkins, who wrote a letter to then-Supervisor Phil Cardinale in 2006 suggesting the path.

Mr. Hawkins also attended the tour Friday.

“This will be a dedicated bike trail,” he said. “There’s none on the East End of Long Island right now.”

In addition to the EPCAL trial, the town also received $3.2 million in federal stimulus money in 2009 for another bike path that would run from the east end of EPCAL on Route 25 and eventually end up on Iron Pier Beach in Northville — about 12 miles away — after winding through a number of town streets like Pulaski Street, Elton Street and Peconic Bay Boulevard.

Ms. Giglio said the town is expected to seek bids for the construction of that bike path in September and could award a contract sometime in October.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Riverhead Town's planned bike path would run south from Route 25 along Line Road (above) before reaching an area near River Road.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Riverhead Town’s planned bike path would run south from Route 25 along Line Road (above) before reaching an area near River Road.

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