WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- The final link in a recreational chain has gotten the official go-ahead, according to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.
The county last week got the unanimous approval from its Board of Acquisition and Contract to hire a contractor to close a half-mile-long hole between the North and South County Trailways.
Construction of the final phase is expected to begin in the spring and be completed by next fall.
In June, county legislators approved a $2.75 million bond act for the project, as well as a 25-year lease with the state Department of Transportation to build and operate a portion of the trailway on state property along the Saw Mill River.
The board’s action authorizes the county to construct an asphalt pathway from Warehouse Lane in the town of Greenburgh south to Main Street (Route 119) in the village of Elmsford.
Right now, hikers, bikers and joggers must detour along Warehouse Lane and busy Route 9A through Elmsford.
When the gap is closed, they will be able to enjoy nearly 37 miles of uninterrupted trails.
The trails, which are used by thousands of people each year, are “truly gems within our park system,” Astorino said.
Completing the trail isn’t just a quality-of-life issue; it also is a means of boosting the economic health of the communities it goes through, said Michael Kaplowitz, chairman of the county Board of Legislators.
“There are cottage industries that are growing up because of that ribbon of trail,” he said.
Robert Hermann, president of the Westchester Cycle Club, said its more than 1,200 members now will have a safer path.
Hermann thanked the county and Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner, whmo he called “a very strong advocate for cycling.”
He also praised the late Al DelBello, a former county executive, lieutenant governor and Yonkers mayor.
Hermann said DelBello, his former law partner, “began this pro-cycling effort way back in the 1970s.”
“We're very happy to see it continued,” he added.
Feiner and Elmsford’s deputy mayor, Edward Rush, said their municipalities both were planning projects to complement the new stretch of trailway.
Rush said Elmsford is seeking a federal grant to build a rest area with 20 parking spaces, security lighting, a pavilion and access to the trail on village-owned property.
Feiner has proposed a bike-share program for Greenburgh that will promote the trailway.
"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," he said.