Bicyclists and hikers eager to tour a stretch of the turn-of-the-century Long Island Motor Parkway will gain an important link in Nassau County, thanks to $1.8 million in federal funding.
Work should start next year on a 1.4-mile paved trail extension in East Meadow, potentially looping around the north end of the Eisenhower Park golf courses -- helping preserve the legacy of a Vanderbilt heir, officials said Tuesday.
The parkway, built by William K. Vanderbilt Jr. in 1908 with automobile races in mind, was a major toll road until it was eclipsed decades later by construction of the Northern and Southern state parkways.
Vanderbilt's 45-mile-long highway fell into disuse and was split up, with some stretches sold to developers and utilities. The easternmost 13 miles became County Route 67.
Nassau's $25 million master plan to preserve the historic parkway as a trail calls for building eight new links, said Brian Schneider, assistant to the county deputy public works commissioner.
"The Long Island Motor Parkway is kind of integral to all of the other trails and bike paths being constructed throughout the county," he said.
The new extension will create a trail network of more than 10 miles, from the Nassau Hub to Levittown, said Howard Kroplick, president of the Long Island Motor Parkway Preservation Society.
This summer, Nassau began the project by paving a mile-long, 10-foot-wide trail on the east side of Eisenhower Park, which cost around $700,000, Schneider said.
"People are just really thrilled with it," he said. "It's a good starting point."
The new trail extension is one of 68 recreational projects around the state that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo approved late last month. The state Department of Transportation is in charge of the program, drawing on $70 million from the Federal Highway Administration. Local sponsors are contributing nearly $34 million.
Long Island received nearly $8 million total, including awards of about $1 million to Long Beach to make Edwards Boulevard more pedestrian- and bike-friendly; $2.5 million for Jones Beach improvements; and $1.5 million for Suffolk's Nicolls Road Bus Rapid Transit Corridor.