2003-07-31 / Front Page
Bike/walking path gets help to the tune of $1M
Bike/walking path gets
help to the tune of $1M
By jennifer dome
SOUTH RIVER — Sporting a wide grin, Mayor Robert Szegeti accepted a $1 million check on Monday that will help fund a bike path and pedestrian walkway near the South River.
During a ceremony at Grekoski Park, the mayor said it was a "wonderful surprise" when he heard the borough was awarded the money through the state Department of Transportation’s Transportation Enhancement Act.
"It’s wonderful when a plan comes together," Szegeti said.
He thanked state Sen. Barbara Buono, state Assemblymen Peter Barnes and Patrick Diegnan, U.S. Rep. Rush Holt and DOT Commissioner Jack Lettiere, who all attended the ceremony Monday, for their help in securing the funds.
"This is a great opportunity for the residents of South River," Szegeti said.
"Here’s a million dollars that are coming to our town that we just could not incorporate in our budget," he said.
The grant will be combined with almost $400,000 from the borough’s municipal budget to construct the 1.4-mile bike path and pedestrian walkway. The path, which will be 12 feet wide, will begin at Ivan Way and run north to Whitehead Avenue, opposite of Yates Avenue.
According to the borough’s engineer, Bruce Koch of CME Associates, designs for the road that will lead to the path near the existing South River Boat Club are already under way. Koch said he expects that the construction of the road will begin next spring. Work to build the path will follow that project.
"I’m all for it," Anne Kruimer, of Edison, said of the path.
"That’s what we need. It’s getting too congested around here, and it’s not safe for cyclists," said Kruimer, a member of the Central Jersey Bicycle Club.
Kruimer’s husband, Mike, who is president of the Central Jersey Bicycle Club, thanked borough and state officials for their help in getting funds for the project. He said that the new path and walkway should be seen as a transportation corridor.
"This trail will offer a safe and scenic method for pedestrians and cyclists alike to travel from their homes to the park or waterfront," Buono said at the ceremony.
Szegeti said that since the path begins near a new housing development in the borough, it will connect some of the new homes to the older town center. Officials also noted that the path will provide a new use for an old, abandoned railroad line.
"It’s a wonderful setting," Holt said of Grekoski Park and the waterfront area where the path will be constructed. "This will be something we’ll want to show off as a perfect use of federal funds, matched with state funds."
The plans for the path and walkway are part of an extended waterfront improvement project that will cost a total of $3.5 million, according to borough officials.
Besides the 1.4-mile path and walkway, a 1.3-mile river walk that connects to the path and walkway is designed to run near the existing South River Boat Club, south along the South River, and it will connect with the path and walkway again near the Department of Public Works building.
In addition, athletic fields are planned for the 37 acres of waterfront property that the borough purchased from the county. The borough agreed to pay $1 a year for 19 years to the county in order to lease the land, borough officials have said.
Other plans for the waterfront project include a passive park, where only light recreation — such as bird watching and walking — would be permitted.