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Long Beach moves ahead on bike and pedestrian improvements

View of intersection at W. Park Ave. and

View of intersection at W. Park Ave. and Edwards Blvd., Feb. 23, 2016. View is looking southwest. Long Beach received $1.2 million in new grants to transform its downtown for walkability and bike lanes along Park Avenue. A separate grant was given to Edwards Avenue. Photo Credit: Daniel Goodrich

Long Beach City officials are hoping more than $3 million in grants and its own funding will transform the downtown into a place friendlier to pedestrians and bicyclists going from shops to the beach.

The city has received a $775,000 grant from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council for its Downtown Resilient Connectivity Project for the second phase of work on Park Avenue.

The city will match approximately half that grant for a total of $1.5 million that will be used for its Complete Streets project, first proposed in 2013.

Other funding totaling $1 million will be used for bicycle paths in another phase of work on Park Avenue, and a $1 million state Department of Transportation grant will help construct bicycle paths and mitigate flooding between Park Avenue and the boardwalk.

The Complete Streets resolution passed by Long Beach City Council was aimed at connecting pedestrian access and bike lanes along the main shopping district between Long Beach and Laurelton boulevards.

The city has received $500,000 in a state grant for the first phase of the work, which it matched with city funds for a total of $1 million that will be used to create bike paths along Park Avenue.

“This is important to the overall goal of transforming Park Avenue into a more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly place as part of an economically successful and resilient downtown,” Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman said.

Both phases of the project — the main shopping district and the Park Avenue bike paths — have been outlined in formal requests for engineering and design proposals put out by the city. Those proposals include sidewalk improvements, permeable pavement utility strips for storm-water runoff, stormwater treatment, rain gardens, solar street lighting, new signs and sidewalk extensions.

The city’s first streetscaping project began in spring 2016 and included bike racks, hanging and sidewalk planters and new signs. The improvements are meant to generate new business and economic activity along Long Beach’s main thoroughfare, north of the boardwalk and near the bus and train stations.

Officials said the improvements should help address safety concerns for the heavily trafficked area of shoppers and beachgoers in the summer. The city previously synced its traffic lights and lowered the speed limit from 35 mph to 30 mph on sections of Long Beach Boulevard and East Park Avenue and from 25 to 15 mph in some residential parts of the city.

“We’re certainly due to improve our bicycle and pedestrian accessibility and better manage traffic issues,” Schnirman said.

In 2014 the city received a $1 million state transportation grant to transform Edwards Boulevard with the goal of improving pedestrian access between the business district, train station and the boardwalk.

The city is awaiting a design and engineering report to be submitted to the state Department of Transportation for review.

That grant will allow the city to add bike lanes and make sidewalk improvements along six blocks between the beach and downtown. Transportation grants cover about 80 percent of the Edwards Boulevard project.

City leaders will hold a public hearing for resident input on redesigning Edwards Boulevard once it is approved by the state.

How the state and city funding breaks down for improved pedestrian and bike paths in Long Beach:

Park Avenue Phase 1: $1 million

Park Avenue Phase 2: Award $775,000, with a 50 percent match by the city.

Edwards Boulevard: $1 million

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