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jandrewsshovelEastern Trail News Page - Current and Archive

Many articles about the Eastern Trail are organized on this news archives page.  The most recent articles appear immediately below, with the first part of each article displayed. Click on any article title, or the "Read More.." link to read the full text of that article. A list of additional article titles appears at the bottom of the page.



A leader on the trail (Nov. 28, 2010)

John Andrews is the motivating force behind southern Maine's expanding off-road trail system.

By Deirdre Fleming This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Staff Writer

ARUNDEL - The trail was slick with sleet Friday morning and the rain was cold, but John Andrews happily covered ground in his work boots as he gave a tour through the wood-lined path leading to the Kennebunk River.

It was the newest section of the Eastern Trail, and after several trail "unveilings" in as many years, Andrews is getting used to showing off this ever-expanding off-road trail in southern Maine.

The Eastern Trail begins at Bug Light in South Portland and the plan is to extend it all the way to Kittery, some 70 miles. It currently travels off road in sections through South Portland, Scarborough, Saco, Old Orchard Beach and now, with the newest section, across Biddeford, Arundel and Kennebunk.


John Andrews points toward Kennebunk as he shows off a new section of the Eastern Trail in Arundel where it crosses the Kennebunk River with a new bridge. The trail is part of the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway.

Read the full article online here.

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Lighthouse pedal pusher Cyclist organizes a lighthouse ride to raise money for the Eastern Trail

By DEIRDRE FLEMING - March 15, 2010

phot of Bob BowkerCAPE ELIZABETH: Bob Bowker pointed at two lighthouses that sat back from the lush vegetation some distance from the park named for them on the Cape Elizabeth peninsula.

At one time, they were used by mariners to help navigate into Portland Harbor, he explained. ''They would line up the two lights,'' he said.

And just as Bowker offered this impromptu history lesson about Two Lights State Park, a motorist with a Maine license plate pulled up and asked the cyclist for directions to Portland Head Light farther up the coast.

Bowker obliged, but quickly added with a wave to Cape Elizabeth Light east and west: ''There are two lighthouses right there.''

As the creator of the Maine Lighthouse Ride, Bowker is a bit of an advocate for lighthouses. The charity ride, which will be held for the fifth year Sept. 13, winds by five lighthouses and within view of three others that sit offshore: Wood Island Light, Ram Island Ledge Light and Halfway Rock Light.

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Bicycle and Pedestrian Trails in Maine: A Guide to Maine’s MultiUse Connections (Summer 2010)

bikepedreportBackground: This report provides a listing of Maine Bicycle and Pedestrian Shared Use Trails in Maine, including the Eastern Trail. This report is divided into two sections. The first section lists the bicycle and pedestrian connections that are for nonmotorized uses only. They generally have improved surfaces of either asphalt or stone dust The second section includes Shared Use Paths which also allow ATV’s. All of these trails have been built with partnerships at the local, state, and federal level. They are all open to the public and are built to connect neighborhoods, villages, business areas and towns. This report is meant to be a general outline of bicycle and pedestrian offroad opportunities in Maine.

Walking and Bicycling Trails:

  • Acadia Carriage Roads (Mt Desert Island)
  • Androscoggin River Bicycle and Pedestrian Path (Brunswick)
  • Auburn Riverwalk (Lewiston, Auburn)
  • Beth Condon Pathway (Yarmouth)
  • Bethel Pathway (Bethel)
  • Collins Pond Pathway (Caribou)
  • Calais Waterfront Walkway (Calais)
  • Eastern Trail (Kittery, Old Orchard Beach, Scarborough, South Portland)
  • Foundry Road Path (Livermore Falls)
  • Kennebec River Rail Trail (Augusta, Hallowell, Farmington, Gardiner)
  • Lisbon Trails (Lisbon)
  • Mountain Division Trail (Windham, Gorham, Standish)
  • Mousam Way Bike Path (Sanford)
  • Narrow Gauge Pathway (Carrabassett Valley)
  • Portland Trails – Back Cove/ Eastern Promenade/Bayside Trails (Portland)
  • Presque Isle Bicycle and Pedestrian Walkway (Presque Isle)
  • Sipayik Trail (Perry)
  • South Portland Greenbelt (South Portland)
  • University of Maine Bicycle Path (Old Town, Orono)
  • Westbrook River Walk (Westbrook)

Shared Use Paths: Motorized and NonMotorized Use:

  • Aroostook Valley Rail Trail (Washburn, Van Buren)
  • Down East Sunrise Trail (Ayers Junction to Ellsworth)
  • Four Season Adventure Trail (Newport to DoverFoxcroft)
  • Greenville Junction to Shirley Mills Rail Trail (Greenville Junction)
  • Lagrange Rail Trail (LagrangeMedford)
  • PattenSherman MultiUse Trail (Patten)
  • Sanford Rail Trail (Sanford)
  • Solon/Bingham (Solon to Bingham)
  • Southern Bangor and Aroostook Trail (Houlton, Phair Junction)
  • St. John Valley Heritage Trail (Fort Kent)
  • Turner Bike Path (Turner)
  • Whistle Stop Trail (Jay, Farmington)

Read the full report here.

Eastern Trail Management District Newsletter - January 2009

The Eastern Trail Management District (ETMD) is a group of representatives from each Eastern Trail town that manages the construction and upkeep of the trail. Below is ETMD's January 2009 newsletter:

Maine Ranks as Third Most Bike-Friendly State (2009)

Press Release - Bicycle Coalition of Maine

Augusta – Maine is the third most bike-friendly state in the country, the League of American Bicyclists announced Wednesday.  This is the second year in a row that Maine has held that ranking, based on a League survey covering legislation, enforcement, education and encouragement, policies and programs, infrastructure, evaluation and planning.

The League released the state rankings during National Bike to Work Week.  The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is joining with several other organizations to host a Maine Bike to Work Day celebration on May 21 from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lobsterman Park (corner of Temple and Spring Streets) in downtown Portland.

The League survey rated Maine first in the country in infrastructure.  During the past year, Maine’s network of shared-use paths has expanded rapidly with the opening of the first sections of the Down East Sunrise Trail and the Maine Mountain Division Trail.  More than 60 miles of additional shared-use paths will be built this summer as part of those two projects and the Eastern Trail in York County.

“I’m very pleased that Maine is being recognized at this level for the second year in a row, and especially pleased that the League ranked Maine number one in infrastructure,” said MaineDOT Commissioner David Cole. “We continue to make real progress on a balanced, multimodal system that will meet the varied transportation needs of Maine people.”

Read the full article online here

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has been working since 1992 to make Maine a better place to bicycle.  The coalition advocates for Maine cyclists at the Legislature and in Washington, D.C., teaches bicycle safety to thousands of Maine schoolchildren each year, partners with state agencies on a Share the Road media campaign and serves as a resource on local bicycling issues.

October 2008 Newsletter - Eastern Trail Alliance

Can Trails Reduce Rail Trespass Fatalities? by John Andrews (revised 4 April 2006)

by John Andrews  (revised 4 April 2006)

Each year we suffer 500 rail corridor trespass fatalities in these United States. According to Pamela Caldwell Foggin, Federal Railroad Administration, these fatalities do not include fatalities caused by vehicles passing rail gates, nor do these 500 fatalities include suicides. 

image of handout titled Can Trails Make Rails Safer? According to Betsy Goodrich, New England Office of Rail-to-Trails Conservancy, there are 142,000 miles of active rail corridor in the United States. This means 500 fatalities per year per 142,000 miles. Or one trespass fatality for each 284 mile-years. 

Using data provided by Mia Birk, senior author of Rail-with-Trails, Lessons Learned, we learn that we have 4,400 mile-years of rail-with-trail (RWT) experience in the United States. 

If trails do not increase the danger, then we can expect one rail trespass fatality for every 284 miles per year, then 4,400 mile-year should result in 15 RWT trespass fatalities since the first RWT was opened. If trails increase the risk of pedestrian fatalities, then we might expect many more fatalities. Maybe a ten-fold increase or 150 fatalities in 40 years? 

But, have we experienced 150 RWT fatalities? Have we experiences even 15 fatalities? No. In the entire United States, there has never been one RWT fatality. 

My probability professor would not give me a failing grade, if I claimed adding trails to rail corridors reduced pedestrian fatalities by 25-to-one. 

When I first looked at my math, I felt my math must be wrong. Einstein once told an acquaintance, “If your math does not match your common sense, check your math.” I've asked many people to check my math. Many have rejected my conclusion, but no one has questioned my math.

Click here to view my math tables

Assuming the conclusion it valid, or even close to reality, how do we explain it? This troubled me for months after I first ran the numbers and looked at the result. It now makes sense, at least to me. 

Whenever people trespass in rail corridors, the walking is generally awful but usually easiest on the rails or rail ties. So kids walk on the rail ties or rails. College students leaving a pub may choose to walk an unlit rail corridor to return to their dorm. Hunters seeking game walk the rails. But, if a well-engineered trail existed beside the tracks, most would apparently choose the easier path. Therefore, it does make sense to me that adding a trail to a rail corridor could reduce fatalities by as much as 25-to-1. 

Click here to view Maine Landowner Liability Immunity information


Common wisdom in the rail industry has been that anytime a person enters a rail corridor the risk of a fatality increases. It's obvious to experienced railroad employees that adding a trail and inviting public access should increase the fatalities. Claiming that it will save lives? Crazy! Reading Steven D. Levitt's Freakonomics inspired me to look at existing rail fatality data. Why? Because in his book he demonstrates that common wisdom is often wrong. 


Craig Della Penna, well known RWT advocate, asks the rhetorical question: “Could a railroad be successfully sued if it had refused to allow a RWT where subsequently a trespass fatality occurred?” A NYC attorney with railroad litigation experience is interested in the question. 

Unwelcome at any speed? Irresponsible ATV riders create hostile climate for all operators (March 2002)

Lead Editorial Reprinted from the Journal Tribune, March 29, 2002

It's a beautiful day. Spring is waking up the birds and trees all around us and the last patches of wet spring snow are disappearing, for now at least.

Damage on Eastern Trail caused by ATV use

Of course this means the all-terrain vehicles are returning to our back woods and hillsides, threatening to turn both into noisy, rutted wastelands.

The reputation of ATV riders probably couldn't be much lower than it is right now in Maine. There are reports of riders ignoring and even cutting down "no trespassing" signs, eroding stream banks and treating trails so badly that property owners kick out snowmobiles, too.

Some of the worst offenders are cutting noisily through our own back yard. The Kennebunk Plains conservation area has been damaged and Portland Natural Gas lines endangered by riders who've moved boulders that were supposed to block their way. In Sanford, irresponsible riders have done damage around the industrial park, despite enforcement actions police and the warden service.

A case in point: Last Sunday, a lone ATV rider shot through an intersection on Route 109 near the Center for Shopping and passed cars by traveling on the wrong side of the road, so fast that if drivers had blinked they might not have seen him.


Outdoor enthusiast plans trail (Feb. 1998)

By Jack Beaudoin, Portland Press Herald - Thursday, February 12, 1998

Anybody who has ever tried to bike from Kittery to Portland knows one thing for certain: If you value your life, you can't get there from here.

That's because the world's most pedestrian-unfriendly, bike-unfriendly road - Route 1 - dominates the north-south corridor through York County.

Overburdened by seasonal tourist traffic, narrow through the shoulders, rutted and pot-holed, Route 1 cuts across just about every other road in coastal York County and serves as a real barrier to safe alternative transportation and recreation.

But John Andrews, chairman of Saco Trails, may have found a way around it - the Eastern Trail. In his dream, the Eastern Trail provides a lush, beautiful four-season corridor for cyclists, hikers, inline-skaters, cross-country skiers and snowshoe enthusiasts to travel.

The best thing about Andrews' dream is that the trail already exists.

You might know the Eastern Trail by its old name, the Boston and Maine Eastern Line. Until 1945 - the year it was abandoned - trains ran the 50-mile stretch of the Eastern Line from South Berwick to South Portland. Since then, the line has remained mostly dormant, an overgrown scar cutting across the heart of York County.

But Andrews plans to bring the Eastern Line back to life. Along with Alan Cone of Saco Trails, Dick Roberge of Old Orchard Beach Trails, Tom Daley of the Scarborough Conservation Land Trust and public officials from Saco to South Portland, Andrews has managed to secure almost all the approvals needed to complete the northern edge of the trail from Route 1 in Saco to Bug Light in South Portland.

With that part of the job steaming toward completion, the committee has turned its sights on the southern stretch, from Saco to Dover, N.H.

"I don't see why this can't be done in a matter of years," says Andrews, a 61-year-old semi-retired engineer with a penchant for hiking, biking and cross-country skiing. "I believe if you get a bunch of people together in these southern communities, the trail will happen."

In fact, the speed of the Eastern Trail's development is nothing short of astonishing. Although Daley has been looking into the project's feasibility for 11 years, Andrews and his conservationist friends formed an exploratory committee just about three weeks ago. Since then, Granite State Gas Transmission Inc. (which owns a natural gas pipeline on much of the proposed trail) has enthusiastically signed on to the project, as has the town of Arundel.

"We've already talked a lot about it," says Arundel Planner Roger Cole, who has passed Andrews' plans southwest to Kennebunk planners. "Who wouldn't, with a corridor like that? The Eastern Line is just there for the using."

According to Cole, the Eastern Trail would be a boon to residents and visitors alike. And if Andrews has his way, people could be coming to the state from as far away as Florida. Andrews has been talking to representatives of the East Coast Greenway project, a trail system that someday will connect Bar Harbor to Key West.

Parts of the Greenway, like the Eastern Trail, would be off-limits to motorized vehicles while other stretches would cut through the center of cities like Boston and New York. The more access, the Greenway philosophy goes, the better.

"It's not their intention to make this an Appalachian Trail for bikes," Andrews says. "They want it to go where the people are. And if that means going through cities, so be it."

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