March 2012

In This Issue...

National News

  • Greetings from the Director
  • State of the Trail Report 2011
  • Cabot Tour Ramping Up
  • Become a Monthly Sustainer Member!

Spotlight

  • ECGA Goes to Washington for Nat. Bike Summit

ECGA In the News

Regional News: New England (ME, NH, MA, RI, CT)

  • Upcoming Events in Massachusetts
  • Critical Merritt Parkway Public Meetings
  • Hop River Trail Bridge Installation March 31

Regional News: Mid Atlantic (NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD, DC)

  • Construction Underway on ECG in PA
  • Upcoming Walks and Rides in NJ and NY
  • Great News in Delaware

Regional News: South Atlantic (VA, NC, SC)

  • Beaufort Rail-Trail Construction Coming Soon

Regional News: Southeast (GA, FL)

  • ECGA Joins St. Johns River Ferry Task Force
  • Progress in Martin County
  • Florida Greenways Highlighted in Upcoming Events




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ECG News Online is a publication of the East Coast Greenway Alliance.

Staff
Dennis Markatos-Soriano: Executive Director

Andy Hamilton: Mid-Atlantic Coordinator

Herb Hiller: Southeast Region Consultant

Eric Weis: Trail Program Coordinator

Debbie West: Office Manager / Communications

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Donate to the ECGA

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Greetings from ECGA Executive Director, Dennis Markatos-Soriano

As Temperatures & Gas Prices Rise, So Does the Need for our East Coast Greenway

Dear East Coast Greenway teammates,

We often describe with passion how good it feels to bike and walk on the greenway, especially in the lovely spring upon us. But recent trends show the project is more than just a feeling, it's a necessity.

The price of gasoline is passing $4 per gallon in many of our communities now -- a level that hits most families hard when they are dependent on cars for their daily routine. The East Coast Greenway is a path to freedom from oil for the 45 million people that live in our counties from Maine to Florida.

Every two hours, Americans spend $150 million dollars at the pump. Is this how we want to spend our resources? Bold leadership is needed to prioritize public investment in projects like the ECG, which would reap a very high return based on reduced costs for transportation alone (without even counting the health, traffic, and environmental benefits).

Speaking of the environment, have you looked at your thermometer lately? Over 6,000 record highs have been recorded just this month -- and that's after a winter that usually felt like spring. While some climate change is already in the cards, we can prevent it from eroding our coastal communities beyond recognition. But that will take fast-tracking completion of the greenway and other infrastructure that builds an efficient transportation and energy system. Please join me in sharing this message with neighbors, family and friends.

When you spread the word about the ECG's potential to lower gas costs and greenhouse gas emissions, people may ask how far along our project is. I'm proud to announce that our annual progress report, the State of the Trail Report, was just completed. See our exciting 2011 progress by clicking here!

Together, We Are Building a Sustainable & Healthy America.

Dennis Markatos-Soriano

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National ECGA News
2011 State of the Trail Report is Out!

Each year we publish a State of the Trail Report to keep everyone apprised of our trail progress. The 2011 report was just completed, and is available for download here.

Some highlights of 2011: we designated 50 miles of trail in eight states, Delaware joined New Jersey and New Hampshire as a fully-signed state, a key bridge was completed in Maine over I-95, and $1.5 million was awarded to close key gaps in Pennsylvania.

Each region added new trail, and our route is now 30% on completed trail in New England, 42% in the Mid Atlantic, 15% in the South Atlantic, and 28% in the Southeast. We are excited about our trail progress, and are busy designating and signing more East Coast Greenway this year!

ECG Design. Map
Cabot Tour Ramping Up - Miami to Portland!

We're really excited about the Cabot tour which is starting May 12th in Miami Florida! We have three members who are through-riding, and lots more folks joining for portions of the route. You can find more information about riding with the tour here - we'll post more details soon about the ride times and logistics.

Cabot is hosting events in Miami FL, Charleston SC, Durham NC, Fredericksburg VA, Wilmington DE, New York City, Providence RI, and Portland ME. And there will be other events along the route as well! (Check out the Cabot event page for more info.) We will need volunteers to help out at the events! Please email us at info@greenway.org if you'd like to ride part of the route, or volunteer at an event near you!

New Membership Option - Monthly Sustainer Program

Our membership renewal mailing (for anyone who renews in the first half of the year) will be in your mailboxes soon. And we are offering a new membership option - the monthly sustainer program! Sustainers choose what amount they'd like to give per month, and it is automatically deducted from a credit or debit card - EASY! (You can change the amount, start, or stop at any time.)

And, if you join the Sustainer program by June 1, we'll send you an ECG t-shirt as a thank you gift! For more information or to enroll in the Sustainer program, please contact Debbie at debbie@greenway.org or 919-797-0619.

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ECG Spotlight - National Bike Summit
The East Coast Greenway Team Goes to Washington (Again)

March isn't just the month when we get to enjoy early spring. It's the month that hundreds of bicycling advocates migrate to DC to network, strategize, and make their voice heard on Capitol Hill.

The East Coast Greenway mobilized another excellent team including three from our staff, three from our Trustees and Advisory Board, and several other volunteer leaders throughout our corridor. This year, the National Bike Summit began on Tuesday, March 20th and finished on Friday, March 24th.

I had the pleasure of kicking it off with a group of cycling racers and enthusiasts led by 6-time national cyclocross champion Tim Johnson. A few dozen cyclists and I joined this team who biked all the way from Boston to advocate for safer routes to school, work, and errands. (More about their ride.)

They used some East Coast Greenway segments in their speedy trip and shared a strong appreciation for the work we are all doing to move the project forward. The ride included Volkswagen's CEO Jonathan Browning as they had contributed toward the ride as a great fundraiser for our ally, the Bikes Belong Foundation. Luckily, I only had to keep up with them for a few miles -- but I was in good hands, enjoying the Capital BikeShare bikes which are a huge success in the District!

Later on Tuesday the hosts, League of American Bicyclists, started the Summit with a delicious meal and inspiring words. The first two tables I saw of the record 800+ crowd were full of ECG leaders such as Mike and Anne Kruimer of New Jersey and Wayne Clark of North Carolina. A post-dinner reception hosted by the Alliance for Biking and Walking was a blast as usual.

The next day was full of insightful panels and time to network with allies. Rails to Trails Conservancy President Keith Laughlin and I took the opportunity to catch up over lunch and plan closer collaboration in the months and years ahead.

That evening, we held a reception to celebrate our 20th anniversary and were delighted with another standing-room-only affair. We gave awards to some of the key partners who came such as Maryland-based donor MJ Veverka, former Trustee and steadfast ally David Brickley (now focused on the September 11 Trail which co-aligns with the ECG from DC to NYC), our national partners at Adventure Cycling Association (Jim Sayer and Ginny Sullivan were with us), and Saris who has donated to our recent events.

Thursday we descended upon House and Senate offices to share the importance of further investments in bike-friendly infrastructure (like our Greenway). Now couldn't be a more important time for us to be there, with the transportation bill under consideration and a cut-minded House that needs a reminder that we can't afford not to invest in healthier, oil independent routes.

It was excellent to be with so many of our ECG team and allies. I look forward to another trip to Washington when 2013 rolls around.

- Dennis Markatos-Soriano

dc bike ride
Bike Ride to DC from Boston

Nat. Bike Summit
At the Bike Summit

David Brickley Award
David Brickley receiving ECGA Award. (Photo by Jim Nicholson.)

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ECGA In the News

We've been getting some great press lately as trail progress is made along different parts of our greenway. Here are some recent media highlights:

Baltimore Sun, MD: Car Maker Joins Bike Ride from Boston to DC

Reminder News, CT: Stafford CT Thinks Bikes

Shape Your World, NC: The Road to Healthier NC is Actually a Path

NJ.com: 52 Things to Do in Union County (One of them is Ride the ECG!)

Hartford, CT Courant: Simsbury Bike Walk

Baltimore Sun, MD: ECG Jones Falls Trail

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Regional News: New England
Trail Events Coming in MA - Mark Your Calendar!

Saturday, June 2: National Trails Day in Danvers! Celebrate the Danvers Rail-Trail (ECG) with a guided walk, pancake breakfast, ribbon cutting, live music, face painting, and more! We'll have more information in the May e-news.

Sunday, June 3: Bike to the Sea Day! Ride the Northern Strand Community Trail (ECG) from Everett to either Nahant or Saugus. More info here.

Critical Merritt Parkway Trail Meetings, CT

The proposed Merritt Parkway Trail would close a 37-mile gap in the ECG in southwestern Connecticut. Connecticut DOT has scheduled some of the public meetings related to the Merritt Parkway Trail feasibility study. The Stamford meeting was held on March 22 and the Greenwich meeting was on March 26, and there are more coming. Please attend to show support, and bring your friends and neighbors! New Canaan, April 3, Outback Teen Center, 6 PM; Fairfield, April 10, Osborn Elementary School, 6 PM. More info on the meetings is available here, and here's an article in the CT Post about the Merritt Parkway public meetings.

Covered Bridge Installation, March 31, Andover CT

The Town of Andover confirms that the Hop River Trail (ECG) covered bridge over Route 316, years in the works, will be installed the morning of Saturday, March 31. This is an enormous structure and its installation should be quite a show!

We'll have photos for you in the next issue of the news. For now, here's a photo of the completed bridge sitting on the trail less than a quarter-mile away from its final destination. We can't wait to ride on it!

Hop River Bridge
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Regional News: Mid Atlantic
ECG Projects Under Construction in PA

The Tiger 1 funded projects have started! The 58th Street Connector and the bridge over the CSX tracks are under construction and should be completed this year (photo to right).

The North Delaware River Greenway is also underway - the Lardner's Point Park section is currently under construction, and there should be a ribbon cutting this Summer.

Walks and Rides on the ECG in NJ and NY

The Freewalkers are doing three day-long walks on the East Coast Greenway that combined will have people walking the entire ECG in New Jersey. The first is on April 7th - all walks are free and open to the public. If you want to walk the whole 100 miles of the ECG, check out the Cross Jersey Challenge!

And the NY ECG Committee is putting on some great free walks and bike rides in and around NYC this spring and summer for ECGA members - the first one is the NY to City Island Ride on April 22! Registration required. If you're not a member yet and want to attend, you are invited to join the ECGA at a special rate - check out the NY Eventbrite page for details on the events and how to register.

Great News in Delaware

Things are looking good in Delaware! Funding is in place to begin engineering for the 1-mile gap in the New Castle to Wilmington route this year, and the Governor's proposed budget for FY 2013 includes funding to begin construction next year.

Delaware Governor Jack Markell has provided funds for a First State Trail System which includes the East Coast Greenway. Representatives from the State Department of Transportation, DE State Parks, New Castle County, the City of Wilmington and Bike Delaware, and members of the East Coast Greenway DE committee met in Wilmington with Andy Hamilton, Heather Dunigan and Bobbi Britton to review each segment of the DE route.

The centerpiece of the route in Delaware is the six mile connection between the Wilmington Riverfront and the historic City of New Castle. This has been challenging due to cost and the environmental issues of crossing wetlands and the Christina River, but the funding is in the works to have this completed by 2016. Interest is also high in completing the East Coast Greenway between the community of Claymont and the City of Newark - virtually taking care of the gaps in 95% of the project - which should also be completed by 2016.

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Regional News: South Atlantic
Beaufort Rail-Trail Construction Coming Soon in SC!

Lowcountry Progress! Funding has come through for portions of the Beaufort Rail-Trail (aka Spanish Moss Trail), and construction could begin this summer. This 20-mile project connecting Beaufort to Yemassee has been a long-time dream, and is now a near-term reality. Over a million dollars has been awarded in a Federal Highway Administration Transportation, Community, and System Preservation grant. These funds will build 2 or 3 miles of trail in the most densely populated section of Beaufort. More funds are being sought, and when there's news, we'll pass it along.

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Regional News: Southeast
ECGA Part of St. Johns River Save-the-Ferry Task Force

The ECGA is a strategic participant in a task force that has formed to counter the closing of the St. Johns River Ferry, proposed for the end of September by the Jacksonville Port Authority (JPA). This would significantly affect the ECG though Jacksonville, and we are working to find a solution.

Shutdown of the ferry would entail a 30-mile detour of our trail that today connects the south side of the river in Mayport and its north shore. That detour would require cycling along the north shore’s narrow Heckscher Drive, riding through high-volume traffic downtown and then turning back to the coast through more overcrowded roads with tricky turn lanes for mall traffic and endless curb cuts.

The ECGA spoke on behalf of the ferry at a JPA hearing and has proposed rapid formation of a Heritage Highway A1A Association that would demonstrate commitment of Jacksonville beach towns toward locally resourceful economic development.

We'll keep you posted as more develops.

Martin County Trail Progress

Our trail rolled ahead when the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Acquisition and Restoration Council approved adjustments to a corridor through southern Martin County. Our Martin section is almost half in place, while most of what will remain unbuilt will pass through big Jonathan Dickinson State Park, where a corridor is already identified.

Florida Greenways Highlighted in Upcoming Webinar and EcoExpo

Florida’s three-step program that starts with a webinar and ends with an EcoExpo has leapt two jumps forward in the last month. First, the webinar, co-sponsored by the Office of Greenways and Trails, is confirmed for May 10th at 10:00 AM. Host site for the EcoExpo in October 2013 will be downtown West Palm Beach. Two chief sponsors, together with the Greenway Alliance and OGT, will include the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority and the Palm Beach County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Both steps will bring the Greenway in Florida to the attention of more than 100,000 Floridians. Second step in the program is an expanded Florida Greenway Committee that will follow the webinar.

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***
ECG News Online is a publication of the East Coast Greenway Alliance, a national not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to promoting the establishment, preservation, sound management, and safe use and enjoyment of the East Coast Greenway, a 3000-mile, continuous route linking seaboard cities and towns from Maine to Florida. It aims to be 100% traffic-free.

Support the Greenway by becoming a member of the ECGA or sponsoring a mile of trail today.

Get Involved! Volunteer, write a letter, help spread the word...learn about all the ways you can help create the ECG.

Comments? Suggestions? News? Contact the ECGA at info@greenway.org.

Learn more about the East Coast Greenway by visiting our website, or call us at (919) 797-0619.

We look forward to hearing from you!


Copyright 2012 East Coast Greenway Alliance
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