WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – The Westchester County Board of Acquisition and Contract has approved a 36.8-mile project that will connect recreational trailways from the Bronx to Putnam County.
In January, Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino proposed connecting the North and South County Trailway. If the project moves forward as scheduled, the work will be done in about a year, according to a statement from Astorino’s office.
“The North and South County Trailways are truly gems within our park system, providing recreation to thousands each year,” Astorino said. “Connecting them will now provide more than 36 miles of uninterrupted pathways for walkers, joggers and bikers.
“After more than 30 years, with cooperation at all levels of government and across many administrations, two great trailways will be even better as they are joined together.”
The unanimous decision by the Acquisition and Contract board, or A&C, allows Westchester to build a 0.6-mile asphalt pathway from Warehouse Lane in Greenburgh south to Main Street (Route 119) in Elmsford, according to Astorino.
The current trail forces users to detour along Warehouse Lane and Route 9A through Elmsford.
While connecting the trailways has a recreational purpose, it also is expected to have an impact on general safety.
Robert Hermann, president of the Westchester Cycle Club, said more than 1,200 members who use the trailway regularly will have a much safer experience.
“I see a lot of friends of cycling here, starting with the county executive who has been completely supportive of promoting safe cycling in this county as exemplified by this project,” Hermann said. “We also want to thank the Board of Legislators, Paul Feiner who’s been a very strong advocate for cycling, as well as my late law partner, former County Executive Al Del Bello, who began this pro-cycling effort way back in the 1970s. We're very happy to see it continued.”
Feiner, the Greenburgh town supervisor, and Elmsford Deputy Mayor Edward Rush both said their municipalities are planning projects to complement the new path.
“With the help of the county Planning Department, Elmsford recently applied for a federal grant through the state to build a rest area with 20 parking spaces, security lighting, a pavilion and access to the trail on village-owned property along the new section of the trailway,” said Rush in Astorino’s statement.
Feiner said he has proposed a bike share program for Greenburgh that will promote the trailway, Astorino said.
"If we had bikes that people could share placed along the trail and at some area hotels as well as train stations, it would encourage more people from out of the area to use the trail and enjoy their vacations in Westchester County," Feiner said.
Astorino said the South and North County Trailways meet in Eastview, on the border between Greenburgh and Mount Pleasant. Together, they allow bicyclists and pedestrians to travel mostly along right-of-way lands of the former Putnam Division of the New York Central Railroad, from Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx to the Putnam County border between the towns of Somers and Carmel.
In June, Westchester’s Board of Legislators approved a $2.75 million bond act for the project, as well as a 25-year lease with the New York State Department of Transportation to construct and operate a portion of the trailway on state property along the Saw Mill River, Astorino said.
On July 28, the A&C authorized the county to seek a contractor for the project.
Westchester County Board of Legislators Chairman Michael Kaplowitz said the trailway brings value to both the county’s quality of life and economy.
“There are so many valuable pieces from a recreational standpoint, an economic standpoint, and a quality of life standpoint,” he said in the statement. “Through many of the towns and villages that the trail goes through, there are cottage industries that are growing up because of that ribbon of trail.”
New York state began the North County Trailway project in the 1980s, according to Astorino, who reported that Westchester acquired the right-of-way for the South County Trailway in 1991.
The final phase to connect the trailways is expected to begin construction in Spring 2017. According to Astorino, the work is expected to be done in the fall 2017.