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Maine Voices: East Coast Greenway a true gem, and Maine could help it reach full potential

The goal is a 3,000-mile bike and walking trail safe from vehicles, but only a third of it is off-road so far.

BY DICK WOODBURY - SPECIAL TO THE PRESS HERALD (Dick Woodbury, a resident of Yarmouth, served 10 years in the Maine Legislature and is on the board of the East Coast Greenway Alliance). Posted August 21, 2018.

YARMOUTH — My biking adventure began in Calais, just this side of the St. Croix river from Canada. Calais is at the northern tip of the East Coast Greenway. From there, I biked the Greenway corridor through Machias, Ellsworth, Bangor, Waterville, Augusta, Lewiston, Brunswick, Portland, Saco, Biddeford, and Kittery; and on through New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and into Connecticut. My wife, Debbie, and son Sam joined me for much of this journey.

The vision of the Greenway is a 3,000-mile bike and walking trail, safe from cars, that connects urban centers from the top of Maine to the bottom of Florida. Think Appalachian Trail, but accessible for everyday biking and walking, as well as longer treks, and positioned where people live, running deliberately through population centers in the 16 East Coast states.

After Maine, the East Coast Greenway continues through Portsmouth, Boston, Worcester, Providence, Hartford, New Haven, New York City, and on through Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, Raleigh-Durham, Charleston, Savannah, Jacksonville and Miami, finishing at the bottom tip of the Florida Keys.

I love the vision of the East Coast Greenway for its health, recreation, transportation, commuting, environmental, economic and lifestyle impacts.

I refer to it as the “vision” of the East Coast Greenway because it is just 32 percent completed so far, meaning that 32 percent of it is fully constructed off-road trail, while the remaining 68 percent is temporarily on-road, while new off-road segments are gradually added and interconnected over time. Of the 569 miles I rode, 204 miles were on off-road trails.

Every one of the off-road segments I rode was wonderful. The 87-mile Downeast Sunrise Trail passes through forests, small towns and national wildlife lands from its southern gateway in Ellsworth. The Kennebec River Rail Trail weaves along the river, connecting downtown Augusta with Hallowell, Farmingdale and Gardiner. The Eastern Trail has 22 off-road miles from South Portland through Scarborough, Saco, Biddeford, Arundel and Kennebunk.

Read the entire article online here.

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