Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced the county has received a $250,000 grant through the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council to help fund a Countywide Hike and Bike Network Master Plan. The Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning, which applied for the funds, will issue a Request for Proposals to hire a qualified planning firm to undertake the study.
“A Hike and Bike network will expand transportation options, connect our downtowns, and create a transit-oriented framework needed to attract more young people to Suffolk County,” said Suffolk County Executive Bellone. “This funding is a critical first step to help us achieve this goal and make Long Island a more competitive region."
The study will examine existing and potential hike and bike infrastructure across Suffolk County that can better connect residents to employment, recreation, services, commercial centers, and natural resources through enhanced multi-modal facilities. The study will also identify network gaps and propose a series of phased improvements that increase connectivity. The total cost of the study is $312,807, which includes a 20 percent local match of $62,499 covered by in-kind staff time.
The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council receives funding from the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration and then awards it to sub-recipients to carry out regional planning priorities. A robust Hike and Bike Network will improve bike and pedestrian transportation options, generate economic activity, improve health, support an active lifestyle, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and household transportation costs, and improve air quality.
Theresa Ward, Deputy County Executive and Commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning, said: “The County continues to champion efforts to promote mixed-use transit oriented developments that maximize access to public transportation. Establishing a county-wide hike and bike network goes even further to connect significant local resources and existing downtowns and transit hubs as an important step toward attaining healthier, walkable and bike-able communities. This grant will allow us to create the foundation for that network.”
The proposed Hike and Bike Network complements Suffolk County Executive Bellone’s Connect Long Island plan – a regional transportation and development initiative that promotes sustainable long-term economic growth in Suffolk County. The network will foster walkable and bike-able communities, connecting popular destinations, historical sites, downtowns and transit hubs across the county. The network will work to improve the quality of life for residents, reduce the reliance of automobiles and boost economic activity.
Hike and bike trails remain popular statewide as illustrated by New York State’s investment into the Empire Trail. Once completed, the Empire Trail will be a 750-mile hike-bike path that connects Albany to Buffalo and Manhattan to Canada. Suffolk County’s network shares similar objectives and goals as the initiatives being seen statewide
In June 2017, the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning issued a Request for Information regarding a countywide bike share program. A Hike and Bike Network will complement the proposed bike-share program, which has been deemed both feasible and desirable for use in downtown areas, near transit stations, in public parks, and on college campuses.
José M. Rivera, Executive Director, New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, said: “The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council is pleased to assist County Executive Steve Bellone, as he steers Suffolk County toward a more active and bike-friendly transportation network. As a very passionate NYMTC Council Member and former Co-chair, County Executive Bellone has been at the forefront of promoting innovation, increasing transportation options and reducing emissions for Suffolk County.”
Rosemary Mascali, Co-Chair of the Sustainable Transportation Committee of the US Green Building Council, said: “A county-wide hiking and biking network would provide enhanced opportunities to safely bike and walk both recreationally and to work or school, benefiting our air quality as well as our health and well-being.”
Sammy Chu, Chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council-Long Island Chapter, said: “An expanded hike-bike network would also help boost our local economy as has been proved in many other communities as walkers and bikers stop to visit local delis, restaurants and bike shops.”