The Long and Winding Road Just Got Longer
On Sunday May 23 at 1p.m., the latest extension of Gateway National Recreation Area’s Sandy Hook Multiple-use Pathway (MUP) will be unveiled to the public at a ribbon cutting ceremony. Visitors are encouraged to bring their bikes, roller blades, in-line skates out to the park for a spin. The project extends a new section of multi-use pathway to augment the existing Sandy Hook MUP system. The scenic asphalt pathway extends access from the existing multi-use pathway system at North Beach to Gunnison Beach and various historic sites and gun batteries at Fort Hancock.
“What better way to enjoy the sights and sounds of Sandy Hook than to come out and enjoy a ride or stroll along this beautiful pathway,” said Superintendent Barry Sullivan. “You’ll travel past dunes, maritime forests, salt marshes, ocean beaches, bayside waters and historic sites associated with America’s military past. All the natural and historic sites that make Sandy Hook a unique place.”
The second phase of the Sandy Hook MUP system was completed in two stages in the spring of 2009 and again this past spring. The projects were funded in part by a Department of Transportation Grant secured by Congressman Frank Pallone and by funds received through the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) program. “We appreciate the efforts of Congressman Pallone and his continued support of important visitor improvements and projects like this one,” added Sullivan.
Since the first portion of the trail opened in October 2004, public reaction has been universally positive and the trail has been a favorite of many park visitors. The MUP allows pedestrians, cyclists, in-line skaters and wheelchair users to safely enjoy the park without competing with motorists. The project provides safe and easy access to the trails for park visitors traveling between the various beach areas, the ferry dock and historic sites and gun batteries. The Sandy Hook MUP begins at the entrance of the park and extends five miles to the ferry landing at historic Fort Hancock and now to the Gunnison.
There are restrooms, bike racks and drinking fountains along the route. Motorized vehicles are not permitted except for the mobility impaired. Between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, a beach parking fee is in effect at beach parking lots. There is no fee to park at Fort Hancock or at other non-beach parking areas. Sandy Hook's hours of operation are as follows: November 1- March 31 5a.m. - 8p.m.
April 1- October 1 5a.m. - 10p.m.
The Sandy Hook MUP system will soon benefit from a new highway crossing and pedestrian pathway currently under construction as part of the Route 36 Bridge Replacement project near the entrance of the Park. The connection will link the Sandy Hook MUP to the recently completed extension of the Monmouth County Henry Hudson Trail in Highlands. Also, through the efforts of Congressman Pallone, the park received an additional $810,000 secured in the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act to begin the planning and future construction of the final phase of the Sandy Hook MUP system. It is anticipated the final phase of construction will commence in 2011-2012.
Over the last six years, the NPS has received $4.7 million dollars to construct the MUP system. The funding for Phase 1 and 2 has come from a combination of appropriations including Line Item Construction U.S. DOT Federal Highways Funds, Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA), and the Federal Highways Public Lands Grant Program.