The Port Jefferson-Wading River Rail-Trail

WELCOME to the LIRR Rail to Trail Site! Our goal at Long Island Greenways and Healthy Trails (LIGHT) 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. The proposed network would 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 compete with traffic and fumes. This site focuses on reutilizing the long-abandoned LIRR Wading River extension line, which went out of service in 1938. It will also allow people to reach the popular Rocky Point DEC preserve, with its existing network of hiking and mountain bike trails, and many other great natural areas as well as patronize many of the small businesses along the way. There will be economic benefits of construction jobs and the more important permanent economic activity that people using the trail will bring in. A few of us just rode the entire right of way again recently (which is at some points not easy!) and we are more convinced than ever that we cannot let this great opportunity slip away. We will continue to meet regularly to advance the trail project every other month over 2013 and 2014. See the map at The Rail trail route west section and The Rail trail route east section

                                                                                             June 2004 trail vista
THE LATEST NEWS: The trail project will proceed in a limited zone where there are few homes, mostly wooded areas and farmland for Phase One. Fences may be installed on much of the route, which will only be about 3 to 4 miles initially. The trail may go "On Road" as a bike lane through Rocky Point's Main Street, since the businesses there would like that, and eventually go back off road to the west once more funding as found. Or, it could be routed elsewhere. We still hope the original corridor for the railroad will be used if at all possible. We still hope the old LIRR bridge on Woodville road can and will be preserved as part of Phase One and used for the rail-trail. It is the last one remaining intact on the old RR line. Also, the Tesla Museum folks are interested in the trail section reaching the land adjacent to the museum, and we hope that can be part of Phase one. We will continue to research a safe connector to the Setauket path from the terminus of Phase two of the rail trail on Crystal Brook Hollow road. There are some existing roads as well as a wooded parcel that make a connection possible.

There was some vocal opposition from some homeowners who live directly adjacent to the proposed trail corridor, mainly in Rocky Point. Most of the concerns were about invasion of privacy and increases in crime that many fear would occur. Our hope is that we can show them that this will not happen, in fact maybe inviting a few of these folks over to the Setauket path that is now popular even with the adjacent property owners would help them realize this will raise the value of their property and cause crime and loitering to decrease. While there may be some areas where privacy could in theory be reduced, we would hope the town and county would allow those people concerned about that to put in taller fences (up to 12 feet) or add vegetation to obscure the view. Most of our experience along the Setauket path has been the same, early on there were many opposed and many of them put up fences and planted to block it off. However, a few of these folks have now built gates so they can directly access the trail themselves! Thanks to Suffolk County DPW Gil Anderson and Bill Hillman, RBA Group, and Legislator Sarah Anker for arranging this important meeting. Thanks to CLIMB, Mike Cosel, and all the local residents who support the path. Please write to Suffolk DPW's Bill Hillman at 335 Yaphank Ave Yaphank NY 11980-9744 and let him know you support the trail. See the form below it is attached to the page as a JPG. If you live in the legislative District of Sarah Anker, please call or write her too. Her office is located across from Heritage Park 620 Route 25A, Suite B Mount Sinai, New York 11766 Phone (631) 854-1600 Fax: (631) 854-1603 or visit ASAP Please take the time to do this today... and write note of support for the entire project! Thank you! And if you know of people who live in her district and would support this trail, pass this on and lobby them to come out in favor of the trail. Rumor is that we are slightly behind with people opposed winning so far. WE can make this happen if we try! Or just e-mail Sarah at Sarah.Anker@suffolkcountyny.govTHANKS AGAIN ONLY YOU CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN!

There has been another delay, this time with the federal agencies requiring the county and state DOT to replace any trail footage that LIPA/PSEG may need to remove in the future for powerline expansion or upgrades. This issue keeps returning even when all indications are that the matter has been settled! In August 2013 there was a major news conference where the final agreement to build the trail was signed by LIPA Executives and the County Executive. Many earlier issues with LIPA have been resolved. LIPA was insisting on a right to remove the trail when they see fit, known as a reverter clause, and later came to agree to leave it intact for 25 years, and lease the land to the county for that time period. The federal government did not like the wording of the lease regarding a possible early end to the lease due to unforseen needs to add new utility infrastructure, and all negotiations had stopped since spring of 2011 but began again in early 2013. The funding is always in serious danger of expiring if shovels are not in the ground! Please call up all one of the parties or write once in a while to let them know you still support this project and to inquire about the delays! As recently as November 2013, there was another glitch with the funding, and we had to make several phone calls to get it resolved, only now did we hear rumors of more issues with the exact wording of this guarantee to replace any missing pavement! If the funds were to ever expire, you can forget about any major trails being built in Suffolk for at least another decade. The funding still exists today but is always in danger of being applied to other projects. It also becomes worth less over time since it does not earn any interest. Do we really want to send it back to Washington DC with a "no thanks we don't like this type of project" note? The county earlier in the decade issued an RFP to begin design work on the trail and a firm was hired, but the funding was stopped until the major issues were worked out. An agreement in principle for the county to share liability with LIPA was been reached almost two years ago. Also, the issue of PILOTS was been resolved without requiring the county to spend any more funds. The agreement basically calls for the county to be liable along the entire width and length of the right of way during daylight hours when the trail would be open, but only be responsible for the trail itself after dark. I would like to thank all of the people involved, starting with Congressman Tim Bishop, County Executive Steve Bellone,Legislator Sarah Anker, former LIPA chief Kevin Law, Former County Executive Steve Levy, Mike Cosel, Bruce Kagan, Larry Mazza, Debra Hryvniac, Nick Koridis, Mike Vitti of CLIMB, Ed Silsbe, Mike Deering of LIPA, NYS Senator Ken LaValle, Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Former Legislator Dan Losquardo, and the rest of the Suffolk Legislature, Former County attorney Christine Malafi, and all the civic groups, bike groups, CLIMB, LIGHT, and anyone else who was in favor of this huge project. But we need to keep the calls and letters to continue on or IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN! Hopefully it will lead to many more such projects as the Motor Parkway trail network, where a master plan was just completed and released.

Another nearby trail has finally been completed, while not officially fully opened to the public yet! The first segment which used to begin on Gnarled Hollow road and headed east over past Old Town Road to an old sandpit is finished, and was formally opened to the public in May 2009. The "Phase 2" section extends both westward to the new parking lot next to Renaissance Technologies, and eastward to the Overflow parking lot for the Port Jeff LIRR Station. It has a few hills to help make it a good workout! Anyone who is not a fan or thinks the trail will create problems needs to take a look at this successful project and how it has been a great neighbor. It is a fun place for everyone to safely get some exercise and relaxation! Construction of Phase 2 of this path was performed by local employer Bove Industries of Setauket which will provided work for many people during the last 2 years It will formally open in May 2014. In fact, while it is not offically open yet, it is now possible to walk or bike ride the eastern portion since the gates at Lawrence Aviation have been removed. We hope this wooded site will be at least partially preserved, and it has been cleaned up on the surface already and much of the lands are unaffected by prior development and activities at the old plant. There is strong support and little opposition for this project, which should be linked to the Wading River trail. We support all of these trails.

                                                                Rocky Point trail section
trail The old LIRR extension from Port Jefferson to Wading River was closed in 1938. It remains relatively intact since it is currently used by LIPA for a powerline right-of-way. The route is mostly open space, starting just east of Crystal Brook Hollow road and running to Wading river, about 11 miles or so. You can ride along the route now with a mountain bike, but it is a little rough and also VERY overgrown in some spots, look out for poison ivy and wasps nests (as I learned the hard way during a hot August 2007 ride.) there are still at least 38 vehicle barriers to lift the bike over along the way. A short neglected/abandoned section of pavement exists in one spot, maybe a half mile long, from an earlier effort to build a path under LILCO management in the early 1980's. It is still possible to ride on this undocumented path. Most of the old stations and bridges are gone, but there is one stone structure on Woodville road in good condition that will likely be reused. One or two of the old train stations are used by local businesses. The entire route will be a path exclusively for bikes, pedestrians, and runners, joggers etc. This will provide a safe and clean facility to exercise and enjoy the outdoors away from the traffic clogged streets, such as RT 25A. A short segment was paved behind the old TESLA laboratory site about 15 years ago between North Country road and the area near John and Miller streets... but it has not been maintained. However, it is still rideable and in decent shape. Many side trails exist which could link to various communities along the way. It also allows people to get to the Rocky Point (RCA) state preserve and it's extensive mountain biking trail system. There is sufficient room for a crushed stone or asphalt paved type path, as well as room for a mountain bike dirt path, along most of the route

                                                                                             Another June 2004 trail vista
vista News Flash: Construction of Phase One along Ocean Parkway has begun as of October 2013! This segment will connect Tobay Beach to Jones Beach, and could be ready for action as early as fall 2014! We do need to promote the next section from Tobay to Captree, as well as a path from Captree South to Robert Moses State Park and North to at LEAST Montauk Highway! And we are pleased to report that the Bethpage Bikeway now will take you all the way from Massapequa to Syosset! We should continue to strive to improve sustainability and quality of life on 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, Belmont Lake north to Geiger Lake, a 13 mile trail along Ocean Parkway from Jones Beach to Captree and eventually Robert Moses Beach, another connecting Otsego to Edgewood Preserve via the now demolished old bridge on Commack and over to the Sunken Meadow parkway greenbelt up to the beach, of course this 11 mile route along the abandoned LIRR Wading River branch, and my personal favorite, restoring the remaining LI Motor parkway, (AKA Vanderbilt parkway) as a recreational path running from Western Suffolk to Queens, where the bike path already exists. We also need to support the Queens version of the High line, which would Start in Rego Park and end in Ozone Park along an abandoned LIRR line too (and that is just phase one!)It's often hard to get people motivated to support these projects, and there is always one local resident who fights it tooth and nail because they feel an increase in crime 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.

                                  Older Existing paved trail section along the route
trail It's 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 checking off the boxes on the form, 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 Old Bridgefor more info and let the DOT and local leaders know of your support!

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 or write to your county legislator about it if possible, before the land is appropriated for other uses or developed.

Save the Commack Rd Bridge LI environment site
The LI Motorparkway site CLIMB mountain biking LI Hiking info Recent Long Island photos NYRides Bike Trail Info
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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

2)Build more MOUNTAIN BIKING trails
3)Build more PAVED RECREATIONAL trails
4)Build more HIKING trails
5)Create more REGIONAL PARKS
6)Plant NATIVE LANDSCAPING along the trail and in new developments
7)Convert other UTILITY RIGHT OF WAYS into bikepaths/trails
8)Save the only remaining HISTORIC BRIDGE on WOODVILLE Road
9)Preserve most of the SHOREHAM LIPA/KEYSPAN woods


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This page, the LI Motor parkway page, the save the bridge page, the edgewood site, 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 get the trails built!

site last updated in December 2013
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