Expand the Empire State Trail

Senators claim it ‘just makes sense’

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In 2017, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the Empire State Trail, a continuous 750-mile route that is the longest multi-use trail in the country. The trail runs east-west from Albany to Buffalo and north-south from Plattsburgh to New York City.

One glaring omission from the trail, however, is Long Island.

“No true Empire State Trail can exist without including 175 miles from Manhattan to Montauk,” Sen. Alexis Weik said.

On Tuesday, Sept. 28, state senators Weik and Phil Boyle held a press conference at Brentwood State Park to call on New York State to extend the Empire State Trail onto Long Island.

“We’re here today to call for the state to fully fund the Empire State Trail across Long Island,” Weik said. “A Long Island Empire State Trail would touch 7 million people and do two main things: it would increase tourism and recreation to our incredible parks, tourist destinations, hiking and biking trails and get motorists off the road by encouraging those who can to hike and bike to work, shops and other destinations.”

The group Trust for Public Land and others developed a full plan to extend the trail from Manhattan to Greenport and Montauk. The first phase of this trail would be a 25-mile section that begins in Eisenhower County Park and would end in Brentwood State Park.

“Outdoor recreation keeps us healthy, and no place needs safe places to walk or bike away from cars more than Long Island,” said Carter Strickland, VP, Mid-Atlantic Region and New York State director for The Trust for Public Land.  “By providing an off-road path linking together 13 parks and numerous trails between Eisenhower and Brentwood parks, the first phase of the Long Island Greenway will provide a car-free way to get around, and this unique destination will help create and reinforce a ‘sense of place’ that is so critical to attracting and retaining residents, employees, and businesses.”

The Trust for Public Land estimates an extension of the Empire State Trail across Long Island would impact 7 million New Yorkers. The senators were also joined by biking advocates who were excited that something they have wanted for a long time might finally come to fruition.

“It was a dream of ours years ago, and now it seems like it’s getting closer to reality,” said Michael Vitti, president of CLIMB.

Weik said the total price tag of extending the trail would be $114 million, with the first phase costing approximately $17 million. More information on the proposal can be found at https://www.tpl.org/our-work/long-island-greenway.

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