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Jersey Shore recreation trail network to get crucial missing link

Jersey Shore recreation trail network to get crucial missing link

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The Jersey Shore has many fine recreational paths, constantly used by walkers, runners and bicyclists (and those on skateboards, scooters and e-wheels of all kinds). Once those long paths were made, many users began to dream of adding the connections between them to create a trail network.

That would have enormous appeal to residents and visitors, offering family friendly and safe outdoor exercise and sightseeing. A trail network would also promote bike and e-bike commuting.

If the current paths were fully linked, most popular among them would be a 14-mile scenic circuit around the bay between Ocean City, Somers Point and Marmora. Another would be a 40-mile trail to Cape May City from the Atlantic County Mainland communities or Ocean City. Finish linking the Mainland bike path to that going to Mays Landing and bike tour companies will start taking people on shore tours to and from the Victorian resort.

The nature of bicycle and pedestrian trails is that the easiest work gets done first, so much more time, effort and funds will be needed to make this dream come true.

Here’s one example. A fabulous path on the new Garden State Parkway bridge was finished and taunted bikers, runners and pedestrians for more than a year before the small connections at the ends were completed and it could be used.

That made the need for one of the network’s missing links apparent and urgent. A short stretch of through road with heavy, fast traffic stood between the parkway bridge and the ultra-popular Ocean City and Mainland bike paths.

Somers Point worked to complete this link between the major bike-path bridges and recently announced plans for its creation. It will put bike lines on both sides of Somers Point-Mays Landing Road between Routes 9 and 52 (MacArthur Boulevard).

The city will use a $120,000 Bikeways Grant from the state and Atlantic County will work with the city on the project since it’s a county road. The city engineer will develop the plans, the project will be put out to bid, and the lanes will hopefully be completed this coming summer. That would be great.

New Jersey is working on a plan for its small section of Route 9 between the parkway bridge and these new bike lanes. That will finish this crucial link.

Five years ago we urged a regional approach to completing a pedestrian-cyclist network stretching from Atlantic City to Mays Landing and southward to the end of the state. Since then, we’ve occasionally been a bit impatient, because we see the fun, the economic boost and the health benefits the network would give to the people of the Jersey Shore.

Somers Point officials are on the right path. Improved safety for cyclists and pedestrians made the link urgent, and “we’re a bike-friendly community, so it’s a way to connect all of these things together,” said Jason Frost, city administrator. City Council unanimously gave the project the green light.

We’ll be among the first to give the bike lanes a try when they’re ready — grateful and quickly looking forward to the next added link of the dream trail network. We’ll try to be patient.

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