REPLACE THE COMMACK ROAD BRIDGE


WELCOME to The Bridge Site. Our goal is to build a regional bike and pedestrian trail network on LI, and to preserve forests, open space, existing infrastructure and historic sites along the proposed routes. We hope to improve the planning process so the costs of these improvements, including this bridge, can be lowered. The proposed network could connect our parks, beaches, preserves, communities, employment centers and other public spaces so that Long Islanders can enjoy the outdoors without being forced to use cars or navigate through traffic and fumes. Rebuilding the missing footbridge over Commack Road about 1 mile south of the LIE, and developing a trail running east and west of the area is key to a sustainable future for the area. The original bridge was only used for a few years as a service road to access to some long-gone farmland, possibly leased to Pilgrim Hospital, west of Commack road, and was already closed off by 1960. We converted it to hiking and bicycle use by 1975 and used it uninterrupted until 2009, when it was removed to allow road improvements that would help manage traffic to the Tanger Outlet mall. In 2004 we successfully applied for a TEP grant to renovate the original bridge and add safety fencing, and worked with NYDOT on a proposal called Bike Corridor 16 leading to the Nassau County line but it was never done due to the need to widen the road below. Suffolk County has now completed work on those improvements and widening for Commack Road, partially funded with federal stimulus money. While other parts of the USA and New York City are building many bike and pedestrian facilities, we have made only a little progress so far in western Suffolk.

bridgeout Suffolk DPW took down the old bridge since they could not separate the lanes safely any other way. It was not determined until later that the bridge was in fact New York State property. A new bridge was supposed to replace the original by 2018 at the very latest. However, the old bridge sat right on a property line and the state determined it should be shifted 20 feet south of the original location. It led to more delays and possible loss of funding. We hope to get the engineering work completed so grant applications can be made for the new structure. This will allow links to the future Sagtikos Bikeway to the beaches and westward to Bethpage State Park via Otsego Park too. You'll someday be able to ride all the way from the SCCC West campus to Eisenhower Park in Nassau, or points beyond, if we demand that our leaders catch up to other regions. We are finally seeing construction equipment show up on the North Shore Trail which will connect Port Jefferson to Wading River. It only took 24 years and was declared dead twice when negotiations failed and funding expired... and we will not relent until this bridge is rebuilt and the path are reopened and extended. While the bridge project was hung up in the various legal and funding issues, we worked with CLIMB and constructed over 20 miles of new mountain bicycle trails in the adjacent Edgewood preserve and made many other improvements. We plan to build a few more loops on the west side on DEC land and in Otsego park once the bridge is replaced. The estimated value of the 20 miles of unpaved trails we already built using all volunteer labor is about $250,000. You can also hike or run along most of these trails, although some like loop 6 and 11 are obviously more fun on a bicycle.


good All of the county and state officials have been great to work with and we are continuing the conversations and research. Various funding sources for this vital project are available once a design has been approved. So the next step should be finishing up that work and surveys. There already have built trails in Nassau County, which we have also helped design. It's time we build some here in Suffolk too. Nassau just won a grant bring the LI Motor Parkway trail east from Bethpage State Park to the Suffolk County line and is finalizing the plans to build it. It was last surface structure of the former landmark Edgewood hospital complex. Just as we still expect to see the towering building 102 looming on the horizon when we get near Deer Park, we always expect to see the bridge as we drive down Commack... and it looks odd without it being there. So close to having it saved and will now have to work hard to get a new one constructed at the same location, one that is higher above the road and has abutments spaced far enough apart to support a wider road underneath. This new bridge could also become the pilot project, the model of efficiency that can then be emulated wherever we need to cross a major busy road or highway along the future trail network. This trail section was one that many people already used until 2009, and could have thousands of daily users once the trail would be reopened and extended to Nassau. That trail is still alive and progressing nicely in Nassau County. Bikes and pedestrians are still generally thought of as pesky nuisances on LI. And most people would rather ride or walk on dedicated trails that don't allow motorized vehicles We want to see the Regional Trail, Corridor 16, Empire State Trail Extension, LI Trail... whatever the final name will be, get built in our lifetime. We are well aware that the county now supports bicycling, running and hiking everywhere. If you haven't already done so, be sure to check put the expanded mountain bicycle trail network at the Edgewood Preserve soon... it's a great workout for all, plus you can use these trails for running and hiking too.

Many years ago the county sent an engineer to inspect the old bridge expecting it to be in poor condition and it was actually determined to be in very good condition structurally. This alone however meant nothing much in our efforts to preserve it. Former Legislator Steven Stern and former Legisator Allan Binder both helped guide us in the long process this project has been since 1999. The regional trail may be doomed if we do not replace the bridge. We must keep the project moving forward. It was last surface structure of the former Edgewood hospital complex, which itself is still missed by many of us. Just as we still expect to see the towering building 102 looming on the horizon when we get near Deer Park, we always expect to see the bridge as we drive down Commack... and it looks weird without it being there. We thought we had it saved and will now have to fight to get a new one constructed at the same location, one that is higher above the road and has abutments spaced far enough apart to support a wider road underneath.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hiking over the Bridge in June 2004
Hikebridge Other trails or bike lanes intersecting with the old bridge could be added later as part of road improvement projects, and enhance the area by providing a safe crossing alternative for bicyclists, walkers, and runners to use the excellent facilities at the Edgewood preserve without using a motor vehicle to get there. Reusing the existing Old Commack Road within the preserve as part of a trail system is possible since we had the potholes repaired... A BIG thanks to Babylon, Huntington, and NYDEC! Most of the old concrete road surface is in excellent condition. Another old asphalt road leads to the proposed Pilgrim redevelopment, about half of it has already been repaved east of the new power plants and the rest can be repaved as part of the new path. It would improve the local area's rideability and walkability. Also, the proposed bike lanes and trails might encourage people to ride bicycles to the overcrowded LIRR station instead of taking cars. A southern leg to connect to the train station could follow the power lines adjacent to Heartland and secure bike lockers could provided at the train station.

                      The northbound view from the bridge deck
northview




The old bridge was long used as a safe crossing point on Commack Road (CR4). This structure has been abandoned for over 40 years. but remained in relatively good condition. It used to connect a series of trails that allowed people to hike or mountain bike through at least 7 miles (now over 20 miles) of interconnected trails and more are possible. Removal of this bridge disconnected this vital recreational resource from the community and separated the bulk of the DEC preserve acreage from Otsego Park. A car is almost required reach the preserve safely now, since it is difficult to cross the heavily traveled Commack road during normal hours. You could easily walk or bike walk from Otsego park to this bridge up until June 13th 2009 to safely cross the road into the preserve.

Over the decades, we have studied the corridor in great detail and have found a way to connect the trail over a new bridge to the proposed LI Motor Parkway Historic recreational trail proposed for Nassau County. The original alignment of the old parkway ran from Queens, through central Nassau, and crossed into Suffolk in the Melville area. Much of the original corridor still exists, and a link to this corridor along the LIPA lines that run just west of Carl's Path in Dix Hills is part of the revised plan. The initial trail project (NYDOT off-road corridor 16) is supported by the Motor Parkway Panel, CLIMB, Long Island Greenways and Healthy Trails aka LIGHT, and any others. For more details on the LI Motor Parkway, click on the links below

This trail system could also eventually be connected to a proposed trail that would start at the Pilgrim/Heartland complex and continue along the Sunken Meadow parkway into the park, enabling anyone to ride from Deer Park, Dix Hills, and the adjacent areas up to the north shore. Additional paths to the south shore, where the 13 mile Ocean parkway path is now finally under construction, are also desirable and feasible. As part of the LIGHT project it could head west following the LIPA right of way and connect to the proposed Motor Parkway trail. LIGHT held a ride in 2007 and proved it already possible to ride most of this route, although it is not safe or recommended due to the fact there are several really steep and treacherous hills in a few areas. Plus you may be trespassing on utilty property until permission to build the path is granted, as it took 20 something years to get approval out east for the North Shore trail. If people continue to write or speak to their county, state and local officials, we can make it happen!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Sufficient clearance for all trucks
good It cost about $150,000 to tear down this historic structure that was built during WWII (1941). The cost of repair would likely have been about $80,000, including repairing chipped concrete and rebar, installing safety fencing, and painting over grafitti. We urge everyone to get in touch with us and get involved in efforts to replace this bridge as soon as possible, and help plan the the trails and bikepaths that will enhance the area instead of bringing in more traffic.

We also support preservation of any available lands adjacent to the Edgewood preserve. Much development is proposed for the area, so working with the local officials and the developers we hope to ensure that sufficient open space is protected and enjoyable facilities for walkers, bikers, hikers and bladers are part of the plans. A new development is planned for part of the the former Pilgrim site, and several structures, such as the ornate water tower, powerhouse, and engineering buildings will be retained. Pilgrim itself will continue to operate into the forseeable future.

                                      Hiking nearby on 1.6 mile Old Commack Road
hiking

It would be nice if local residents had a safe bike and pedestrian access route to this and other new recreational attractions, instead of being forced into their vehicles for the short ride to this complex. A comprehensive bike plan for western Suffolk should be created, and reconstruction of this bridge will mean there is a safe place for children, as well as adults, to cross the dangerous Commack road below. We have discussed the bridge and trail network with many local leaders and the owners of Heartland. All have agreed this is a good idea and could help to get people out of cars and onto trails, helping to clear the air and improve eveyone's health. Linking to the abandoned sections of the Motor Parkway is just the beginning: we hope to convince planners that a reconstruction of the Sagtikos should include a bike trail to the south shore... if this is done concurrently with road reconstruction the costs will be minimal. We could EASILY get a loop recreational trail that could take you to Robert Moses Beach, Cedar Beach, Gilgo, Tobay, and Jones Beach Before you head up the Wantagh Parkway and pick up the old Motor Parkway and head back to Edgewood. Please write to show your support! We will need your help!

               

                                                                Bridge Path Route
                                                                                            
bridge Use or reuse of facilities such as abandoned roads and railroad rights of way, old bridges, utility routes, parks, undeveloped lands, abandoned parcels set aside for unbuilt roads, etc need to be considered. Future developments can be required to set aside greenspaces to eventually be linked together. Transportation and recreational facilities should be fun to use, safe, encourage participation of more people of all ages, and be a useful alternative to competing with automobile traffic on existing roads. Please feel free to contact me with any questions at denisbyrne@yahoo.com or write to your county legislator about it if possible. bridgeout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
You can get there from here.
SAVEit We can improve LI by creating a network of recreational trails for bicycles, walkers, joggers, rollerbladers, and any other non-motorized transportation you can think of. Please consider supporting these goals so we can avoid getting in the car just to travel a mile to the local park or strip mall. These projects include creating such trails from Belmont Lake to Babylon Village, a 13 mile trail along Ocean Parkway from Jones Beach to Captree and eventuallly Robert Moses Beach, another connecting Otsego to Edgewood Preserve via the old bridge on Commack and over to the Sunken Meadow parkway greenbelt up to the beach, an extension of the Bethpage parkway bike path to Syosset, another 13 mile route along the abandoned LIRR Wading River branch, and restoring the remaining abandoned sections of the LI Motor parkway, (AKA Vanderbilt parkway) as a recreational path running from Western Suffolk to Queens, where the bike path already exists. It's hard to get people motivated to support these projects, and there is always one local resident who fights against because of misinformation they may have heard about an increase in crime that will come with the "outsiders" coming through. However, in other areas where such trails have been built, home values INCREASED and crime decreased, it actually improved the quality of life in the area and created a park like atmosphere in these areas where it was safe for local children to play away from motor vehicles. It is much more relaxing and fun when you can go out for a ride or walk and not have to deal with traffic clogged roads, diesel fumes, inconsiderate motorists and dangerous conditions. The "Ribbon Park" open space concept is one whose time has come. Please support these plans by copying the listed proposals or submitting your own ideas via e-mail, and speaking in favor of them whenever possible. Anyone interested in supporting any of the bikepath projects should visit the The LI Motorparkway site , The Rail-Trail site, and The Edgewood Preserve site for more info and let the DOT and local leaders know of your support!


The LIRR Rail-Trail site LI Environment site
The LI Motorparkway site The Edgewood Preserve site
The Bridge trail map Hike-LI.com- LI Hiking info
CLIMB mountain biking Motorparkway.net
NYRides Bike Trail Info pedalpushersonline.com story
e-mail denisbyrne@yahoo.com

The Bridge Path network                                                                                                                    

The Long Island we once knew has become densely developed. Somehow, perhaps through a combination of good luck, a lack of early planning, several failed projects such as Multi-Town, and the environmental vision of NYS Senator Johnson and the Pine Barrens society, at least 850 acres of preserved wooded land remains at the Edgewood preserve. This is the last significant remnant of this ecosystem on Long Island. There is a 3 mile official hiking trail on the land, as well as at least 17 miles of marked mountain biking trails and more old fire roads. Also running north and south is the 1.6 mile concrete Old Commack Road, which is in good condition.

Key among those trails is one that starts at "Old Commack Road" which is now the concrete bikepath, and heads west over the old bridge, eventually connecting to trails inside Huntington town's Otsego park. These trails heading west are known as NYDOT Corridor 16 and would lead all the way to Jones Beach among other destinations. To the east of the Edgewood preserve, another possible trail could follow the Sagtikos parkway and Robert Moses Causeway to the south shore, and north all the way north to Sunken Meadow State park.


REBUILD THE OLD BRIDGE
WRITE TO YOUR STATE AND LOCAL OFFICIALS!
MAKE LI A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE

This page, the LI Motor parkway page, the LIRR rail trail page, the Edgewood page, the recent photos pages, are hosted by Denis Byrne. Thanks to all of you who have responded to the site and all of your constructive comments! Let's replace the bridge!

THANK YOU VISITING
WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT... SEND YOUR COMMENTS!
PLEASE SEND AN E-MAIL MESSAGE STATING YOUR THOUGHTS OR INTERESTS!
SINCERELY, DENIS BYRNE
site last updated in DECEMBER 2019

We are formed a group to improve the preserve and surrounding areas under the NYDEC "Adopt a Natural Resource" program. If you are even remotely interested please get in touch with me soon. Some of the ideas regarding the preserve and surroundings that we are working on and need your support! Copy and send the ones that you would like to support and paste them into your e-mail, along with your name, address if possible, and e-mail address

1)REPLACE the HISTORIC PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE on Commack road as part of the extended LI Trail
2)Build RECREATIONAL PATHS along "new" COMMACK ROAD
3)Convert OLD COMMACK ROAD into a bike path by simply patching the potholes(DONE!) and pruning trees
4)SAVE Other OPEN SPACE near the EDGEWOOD PRESERVE
5)STOP the HUGE NYS INTERMODAL FREIGHT YARD (LITRIM) from being built at the PRESERVE BORDERS
6)Secure the PRESERVE borders to eliminate dumping and illegal uses such as ATV's
7)build more MOUNTAIN BIKING trails
8)build more PAVED recreational paths
9)build more HIKING trails
10)Build the SUNKEN MEADOW to ROBERT MOSES RECREATIONAL TRAIL
11)save more open space on LI
12)plant more NATIVE landscaping and REMOVE INVASIVES
13)convert more LIPA utility easements into bikepaths/trails


Send all messages, communications, ideas, historic facts and photos to: denisbyrne@yahoo.com

all hosted pages are Denis Byrne