Workers could start as early as this summer transforming an abandoned section of old Route 111 in Village of the Branch into a smooth path for shoppers and Long Island Greenbelt Trail hikers.
“We’re excited,” Mayor Mark Delaney said. “It’s a great way for people to get down to the shopping center and the churches without taking their life into their own hands” on the modern, busy Route 111, which runs adjacent to the west and has no sidewalks.
The $231,000 project, primarily funded by a New York State grant, will link the neighborhoods off Mount Pleasant Road, to the south, to the shopping center anchored by Uncle Giuseppe’s Marketplace, in the north. At its midpoint, the path will form a trailhead for the Greenbelt Trail, which stretches from Sunken Meadow State Park on the Long Island Sound to Heckscher State Park on the Great South Bay.
The old roadbed, formally abandoned by New York State in 1967, is cracked and unlit, and shielded from the modern road by thick foliage. Vandals have damaged a kiosk built by a local Eagle Scout to display trail information and left graffiti on fences and litter in the brush.
Plans call for a new 16-foot wide asphalt pathway for walkers and bicycles and 10 light poles Delaney said had been specially chosen to shine down and not into neighboring homes. The project also calls for replacing a small footbridge spanning the northeast branch of the Nissequogue River with a larger, prefabricated bridge.
David Reisfield, a Smithtown resident and president of the Long Island Greenbelt Trail Conference, a nonprofit organization that created and maintains hundreds of miles of trails in the region, said the project would benefit village residents and as many as 60 to 70 hikers who use the trailhead on busy summer weekends.
“Anytime somebody’s going to make an improvement that makes it easier to walk, or safer to walk, I’m all for it,” he said.