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Ocean Parkway bike path's 10-mile extension is open three months early

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The long-awaited extension of the Ocean Parkway Coastal   Greenway Shared Use Path is now complete, three months ahead of schedule, and open for use by cyclists, runners, skaters and walkers.

The 10-mile, $16.2 million extension connects the Greenway Shared Use Path from Tobay Beach, in the Town of Oyster Bay, to Captree State Park, which spans the towns of Babylon and Islip.

According to a March 5 announcement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who marked the construction of the path in October 2019, the first few months of 2020 were mild and dry, allowing more time for work on it.

The extension was built in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and includes new bike parking sections at Gilgo Beach, Cedar Beach Marina and Captree State Park. Safety measures include signage detailing distances to the nearest public facilities, additional crosswalks and a reflective cable guiderail between the path and Ocean Parkway.

Planted along the new path are hundreds of plants native to Long Island, such as beach grass, evergreen trees, bayberry plants and beach plums — all of which support the state’s bee and monarch butterfly population restoration efforts, according to a statement from Cuomo’s office.

Those using the path can also stop at a number of educational panels that include historical and environmental information.

“Exploring Long Island’s coastline ranks among New York’s most awe-inspiring outdoor experiences,” said State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid, adding that the path treats travelers to views of the Great South Bay and the Manhattan skyline.

The final extension of the path concludes eight years of construction that began with the completion of the Greenway’s first phase in 2013, which connected the five-mile-long Ellen Farrant Memorial Bikeway to the Jones Beach boardwalk. The Farrant path begins at Cedar Creek Park, in Seaford, and continues up the Wantagh Parkway. Prior to 2013, it stopped before Jones Beach.

The state Department of Transportation extended the route from Jones Beach east along the Ocean Parkway in 2014, concluding at Tobay Beach. Cuomo christened the 3.6-mile, $3.8 million extension that June.

In 2019, the DOT completed a separate section of the path in the opposite direction, which runs to the barrier island’s west end. With the completion of the 10-mile extension, the entirety of Jones Beach is now navigable by bike. 

“Tourism on Long Island is a $6.3 billion annual industry that draws visitors from around the globe to experience Long Island’s world-class beaches and extensive outdoor offerings,” said Kristen Jarnagin, president and chief executive officer of Discover Long Island. “The addition of this new ocean-front, outdoor attraction that spans Ocean Parkway, connects to additional trails and boasts stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and Jones Beach is certain to be a new favorite for both residents and visitors alike.”