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$500,000 state grant will improve safety and travel opportunities for cyclists

Elizabeth – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders announced that a state grant of $500,000 will be used to construct a significant new bike path in Lenape Park. The funds were awarded under the New Jersey Department of Transportation Bikeways grant program.

“This is a milestone grant for alternative transportation in Union County,” said Freeholder Chairman Angel G. Estrada. “As a complement to the county’s Go Green initiative for 2008, the new bike path will provide more County residents with access to a safe, healthy, affordable, and environmentally sustainable means of travel.”

Lenape Park is part of the 6,600-acre Union County park system. It sprawls across parts of Cranford, Kenilworth, Springfield, Union, and Westfield. The 400-acre park includes a small pond, elevated dikes, and walking trails.

Union County’s grant of $500,000 was the largest awarded by the 2008 Bikeways program, which distributed a total of $3 million to 13 counties. The goal of Bikeways is to create more dedicated bike paths in New Jersey.

“We are extremely pleased that the Department of Transportation has recognized how serious Union County is about encouraging the safe use of bicycles for commuting, errands, and recreation,” said Chairman Estrada. “The need is there, the willpower is there, and now the money is there.”

The new path will be 1.2 miles long. It will be constructed on an existing roadbed, much of which runs atop an elevated dike. It will connect with existing bike paths in Nomahegan and Black Brook parks. Together, these paths form part of the East Coast Greenway.

The Greenway is a bike route that runs along the entire eastern seaboard from the southern tip of Florida to the northern tip of Maine. It is included in Union County’s Comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan, which is designed to encourage bicycle use throughout the county.

For safety as well as for aesthetic reasons, the Greenway route uses dedicated bike paths wherever possible. The new Lenape path will replace an existing section of the Greenway that runs along Kenilworth Boulevard.

In addition to providing a safer alternative for cyclists, the new path will open up
a previously inaccessible part of Lenape Park for walking, nature observation,
and bird watching.