YORKTOWN, N.Y. – An $8.7 million project to rehabilitate the North County Trailway has begun.

County Executive George Latimer, standing near the start of the trailway in Mount Pleasant on Friday, Feb. 22, said the repairs are “long overdue.”

“I think all of Westchester County ought to be apologetic that we haven’t seen this as the priority that it should be,” Latimer said. “From this point forward, we intend to get this trailway back to where it should be [and] maintain it properly in the years to come.”

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The trailway, which is owned by the state and leased by the county, spans 22.1 miles from Eastview in Mount Pleasant to the border of Putnam County. It was built in the 1980s on the New York and Putnam Railroad line, often referred to as “Old Put,” which operated between the Bronx and Brewster.

Kathleen O’Connor, county parks commissioner, said the trailway is a popular spot for cyclists, joggers and walkers. It is clear, through surveys of residents, that the North County Trailway is one of the county’s “most popular assets,” she said.

“This is one of our most prized possessions,” O’Connor said. “We are thrilled to death that this project is getting off the ground.”

The Westchester County Board of Legislators approved the money, which comes from a capital bond. Work has already begun and includes:

• Complete rehabilitation of the trail’s surface including full-depth asphalt where required, and top layer in other areas to be determined by existing conditions;

• Root removal and associated pruning of trees along the route;

• Rebuilding and reshaping swales to route water away from the trail’s surface;

• Cleaning or replacing culverts to improve drainage; and

• Safety enhancements, including the replacement of nearly all fencing along the trail.

County Legislator Mike Kaplowitz, whose district includes a portion of Yorktown, said the trail enhancements include taller fencing on the bridge over the New Croton Reservoir to deter potential jumpers, whatever their motivation.

The state’s continued ownership of the trailway has made repairs difficult, Kaplowitz said, because they need Albany’s approval. The trail, he said, has been “degraded and beaten up and needs great repair.”

The bond also includes $300,000 for the design of planned improvements to the 12-mile South County Trailway, which connects to the North County Trailway at Eastview and continues south to the Bronx border.

Latimer said, “We’re at the point in the South County Trailway where we have to do the design, and that costs $300,000 before we get to the capital project, which would be significant.”

O’Connor hopes construction can be completed within a year, weather permitting. The construction also includes rehabbing parking lots along the trail.