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Long Beach gets $1 million state grant for more pedestrian, bicycle access on Edwards Blvd.

A northbound view of Edwards Blvd where W.

A northbound view of Edwards Blvd where W. Park Ave. cross and the Long Island Rail Road station is in Long Beach Oct. 28, 2014. Long Beach was awarded a $1,063,851 grant from the New York State Department of Transportation to transform Edwards Blvd. into a more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly thoroughfare. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Long Beach has received a $1 million grant for redesigning Edwards Boulevard to give more access to pedestrians and bicyclists between the train station and the boardwalk.

The New York Department of Transportation on Monday awarded the grant to the city to renovate the major thoroughfare across six blocks between the beach and downtown.

City officials will use the grant money to add bike lanes, make sidewalk improvements and upgrade landscaping for flood prevention, City Manager Jack Schnirman said Tuesday.

"It's the City Council's goal to make the entire city more pedestrian and bike friendly," Schnirman said. "This is a good opportunity to move that goal forward."

Long Beach officials applied for the transportation grant last spring, after several community meetings with Edwards Boulevard residents. The grant will cover 80 percent of the project cost, with the other 20 percent budgeted from the city's public works capital fund.

The funding is part of $70 million in statewide grants awarded for pedestrian and bike paths funded by the state Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.

City officials will hold community meetings with Long Beach Listens, a committee that gathers resident feedback on city improvements and storm recovery. The meetings will be for residents to offer suggestions on improving Edwards Boulevard, as they did with surveys about the Long Beach boardwalk.

The two-lane street will remain open to traffic during the project and once it's completed. The road is divided by a grassy median lined with parking spaces. City engineers will consider adding marked crosswalks and wider shoulders.

"A lot of pedestrians use Edwards to walk and bike to the train station," Schnirman said. "On a lot of streets, there is a lot of traffic and there isn't any strong delineated walking or biking lanes."

There are no set designs for the project or timeline for starting construction. City planners will add landscaping and rain gardens to help prevent flooding.

Long Beach won the grant on its first application, city Economic Development Director Patricia Bourne said in a statement. Municipalities usually don't receive grants from their first application because the process is competitive, she said.

Grants were also awarded to Jones Beach State Park, Island Park and to Nassau County for a stretch of the Long Island Motor Park Trail. Suffolk County received grants in Brookhaven and for trails along the Nicolls Road Rapid Bus Corridor.

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