January 2012

In This Issue...

National News

  • Greetings from the Director
  • ECGA Co-hosts Surgeon General in Durham
  • ECGA in Roundtable with National Congressional Leaders
  • Transportation Bills Due for Vote this Week


  • New Mile Marker Signs on the ECG

ECGA In the News

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

  • Construction Complete on Maine's Saco-Old Orchard Beach Section of the Eastern Trail
  • Update on ECG Crossing between ME & NH
  • Northern Strand Community Trail Progress in MA
  • Merritt Parkway Public Open Houses Coming Soon

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

  • More Route Signs Coming in NY, PA, DC
  • Walks and More Great Events in New Jersey
  • Cecil County, MD Bike Plan Public Workshops

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

  • ECG Virginia Guide On Its Way
  • NC Route Getting an Update by Spring

Regional News: Southeast (GA, FL)

  • Important Miami to Keys Gap Closed in FL
  • New Trail Coming to Amelia Island, FL
  • More Florida Trail News

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

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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Greetings from ECGA Executive Director, Dennis Markatos-Soriano

A Breakout Year Begins: Hosting the Surgeon General and Congressional Leaders

Dear East Coast Greenway teammates,

For a long time I've felt that 2012 would be a special year for our project. Greenway progress and growing signage are raising our profile and fueling further momentum.

January hasn't let me down one bit. Two weeks ago, I was honored to be part of a sustainable transportation roundtable with Congressional Bike Caucus founder Earl Blumenauer (Portland, OR), local Congressman David Price, Performance Bicycle CEO David Pruitt, and three of our key local allies (details below). The standing-room-only event brought forward-thinking pedestrian and biking advocates together for an inspiring discussion near the ECG in downtown Durham.

Then last week, we helped the Carolina Godiva Track Club host Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin for a 30-minute greenway walk. Despite the fact that the walk started 30 minutes after sunset, around 200 people joined us to hear the inspiring Surgeon General and to walk together along our American Tobacco Trail segment in southern Durham.

I can't wait to see what else 2012 has in store for all of us and our project.

Together, We Are Building a Sustainable & Healthy America.

surgeon general visits Durham

Photo by Jerry Markatos

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National ECGA News
ECGA Co-hosts Surgeon General in Durham, NC

On Thursday, January 26th, US Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin attended an evening walk in Durham, North Carolina. We were proud to team up with local partners at the Carolina Godiva Track Club for the event.

Dr. Benjamin and around 200 people walked approximately two miles on the American Tobacco Trail segment. In a short speech before the walk, Dr. Benjamin emphasized that we can be healthy at any age and any weight. She encouraged everyone to find the joy in fitness by doing exercise we love, whether walking, biking, dancing, or playing with grandkids.

The diverse and energized group walked with flashlights and headlamps as the walk started at 6:15 PM. Participants were of all ages and included many Public Health Officers, members of the African-American service-oriented sorority Delta Sigma Theta, members of the Carolina Godivas Track Club, bicycle / pedestrian and rail-trail advocates, and neighbors throughout the region.

We are so honored that America's Doctor came to our region and enjoyed some exercise on the East Coast Greenway! Together, we are making a positive impact on the health of people and communities throughout the East Coast.

surg general visits durham

Photos by Jerry Markatos

Surgeon General Visits Durham

L to R: ECGA Volunteer Tiffany Washington, NC Rails Trails Director Carrie Banks, Debbie West, Dennis Markatos-Soriano, Dr. Regina Benjamin, Carolina Godiva President Halley Amick and Carolyn Huettel
ECGA Participates in Roundtable with National Bicycle Transportation Leader, Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon

On Thursday, January 19th, US Congressman David Price of North Carolina hosted a roundtable discussion in Durham with national bicycle transportation and livability leader, US Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon. The discussion featured a panel of North Carolina bicycle and pedestrian leaders, including the ECGA's Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano, Mountains to Sea Trail Director Kate Dixon, Wake County Open Space & Parks Advisory Committee Chair and ECGA State Committee member Sig Hutchinson, Performance Bicycle CEO David Pruitt, and Durham Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee Chair Scott Carter. Each panel member spoke about their vision to make the Triangle a leader in bicycle and pedestrian transportation.

congressmen roundtable

L to R: Sig Hutchinson, Congressman Price, Congressman Blumenauer, David Pruitt, Dennis Markatos-Soriano. Photo by Jerry Markatos.

Congressmen Price and Blumenauer spoke about their work to support active transportation on the national level, and the need to protect funding as the transportation reauthorization bill comes up for vote (see article below). It was exciting to see the panel was a standing-room-only event even though it was in the middle of a weekday. The floor was opened for questions and comments, fueling an inspiring dialogue on a range of topics from the economic case for enhancing bicycle and pedestrian safety to the importance of growing community bike shares to a need for better coordination with railroad companies to procure abandoned lines for rail-trails.

The East Coast Greenway Alliance was truly honored to be part of this event. We are excited and energized by our many supporters from the national to the local level. Still, as you can see below, we have more progress to make in educating the full political spectrum on the benefits of investing in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

Take Action to Support Biking, Walking, and Recreational Trails Programs

Several bills are up for vote in Congress soon that could severely impact bicycling and pedestrian and recreational trails programs. We urge you to contact your congresspeople and let them know where you stand on these important issues!

Biking and Walking Under Attack in the House - Vote is this Week - (from the League of American Bicyclists and America Bikes) On Thursday, Feb. 2, the House Transportation Committee will vote on the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, a bill that eliminates the two largest programs that fund biking and walking. Without these programs, communities all over the country will lose resources to build the sidewalks, crosswalks, and bikeways that make biking and walking safe and accessible. Read more and take action.

Recreational Trails Program Could Lose All Funding - (From American Trails) The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has approved transportation reauthorization legislation that would eliminate the RTP by stripping the program of its dedicated funding. The RTP is the foundation of state trail programs. If the RTP loses its dedicated funding, organized trail planning and development will simply vanish in many areas of the country. Read more about this issue and take action.

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ECG Spotlight - New Mileage Marker Signs
ECGA Rolls Out New Mileage Signs

ECGA Mileage Marker Sign

The vision and scope of a 2,900 mile non-motorized route can be hard to grasp. One way we've come up with to help convey the ECGA's long-distance trail is to start installing mileage signs at various points as pictured above. The distances to both Calais, Maine and Key West, Florida, the northern and southern termini of our route, help get the word out about what’s possible on the East Coast Greenway.

To date, over twenty mileage signs have been installed up and down our route, mostly on local trail kiosks and on buildings and fences on the trails where permitted. Of course, as our route changes and improves as more off-road trail is built each year, the exact miles on these signs may need to change slightly. But we consider needing to update the signs in a few years a good problem to have – it means increasing progress on our route.

The mileage signs measure 4" high and are 48" wide, and contain our eight user icons. If you may know a spot along a section of the East Coast Greenway that might make a good place for a mileage sign like this, please email eric@greenway.org. We'll calculate the miles from that location and get approval from the managing authority of the trail and kiosk before we install one. Help us get the amazing story about the ECG out!

- Article and Photos by Dave Read, ECGA Board Chair

Maine Kiosk

Trail kiosk with sign in Salisbury, Massachusetts

Maine Down East Sunrise Trail Kiosk

Dennis at Down East Sunrise Trail Kiosk in Macias, Maine

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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:

Feature of ECG and our southern Maine partners, the Eastern Trail Alliance in the Seacoast Online.

New Hampshire progress update in the Seacoast Online.

Baltimore Sun reports growing support for the ECG as number of cyclists doubles in one year.

Florida ferry on the ECG gets a supportive Op-Ed in Jacksonville's Times-Union

Performance Bike blog on the Congressional roundtable.

Progress report from star volunteer Phil Scanlin in Florida's News Leader.

ECG featured in Gas 2.0 Blog.

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Regional News: New England
Construction Complete on Saco-Old Orchard Beach Section of Maine's Eastern Trail

The Eastern Trail Alliance announced that construction is now complete along its newest section of trail, which stretches from Thornton Academy in Saco to Milliken Mills Road in Old Orchard Beach and includes a bridge that spans Route 1 in Saco just north of Ross Road.

This newest success, coming just four months after the opening ceremony for the Eastern Trail Turnpike Bridge just north of Exit 25 in Kennebunk, is certainly cause for celebration. The Saco-OOB section’s 4.4 miles provides another crucial link in the development of a 65-mile greenway in southern Maine. With the completion of this new section, 85 percent of the trail is now developed off-road north of Kennebunk.

Eastern Trail

Photo by Jim Bucar.

“Fourteen years ago a small group of area residents said, ‘Let’s make this old rail line into a trail,’ and we are now reaping the benefits,” said Eastern Trail Alliance President Bob Hamblen. “A big ‘thank you’ is due the voters of Saco, who approved a $500,000 bond in 2008 that made this possible.”

An opening ceremony for the Saco-OOB section will be held this spring, though a date for the event has not yet been chosen.

With this section’s completion, attention now turns to a .8-mile section in Scarborough that will include a bridge to span the Nonesuch River -- already in the planning stages -- and to the southern York County communities through which the trail will be developed, including Wells, Eliot, Kittery and the Berwicks.

When completed, the Eastern Trail will connect the Piscataqua River in Kittery with Bug Light on Casco Bay in South Portland with a mostly off-road greenway. The Eastern Trail follows the route of the historic Eastern Railroad, the first rail line connecting Boston and the Portland area. It extends through 12 communities in York and Cumberland counties. The Eastern Trail is the Southern Maine portion of the 2,900 mile East Coast Greenway.

Article by Eastern Trail Alliance.

Update on ECG Crossing Between Maine and New Hampshire

The ECG crossing between Portsmouth, NH and Kittery, Maine, the historic Memorial Bridge, is closed and will be replaced over the coming 18 months. As this is the only bridge in the immediate vicinity permitting bike and pedestrian crossing (there are two others, but for motor vehicles only), NHDOT has set up a shuttle bus service that can handle up to 7 bikes at a time. Service is two round-trips per hour, running from 5 am to 1 am. We are grateful to NHDOT and MDOT for putting this shuttle in place, and for adopting a design for the replacement bridge that improves bicyclist and pedestrian safety. The old bridge had a steel grate deck; the new one will feature a solid deck, with 5-foot bike lanes. Pedestrian advocates are asking for four bumpouts to be added to the sidewalks, so that walkers can stop to admire the view without obstructing other walkers.

Due to the alignment of the ECG route north of Kittery, the ECG can detour and use the Eliot Bridge (connecting Eliot, Maine with Dover, NH) without adding much mileage to the route; the new routing directions will be on greenway.org by spring. In that sense, we are not a principal stakeholder. However, we stand with our partner organizations in believing that the shuttle bus system is not an adequate solution. Rockingham Planning Council, the regional planning agency for this part of NH, has studied the specs for the closest upstream bridge (Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, carrying US Rt. 1 Bypass) and recommends shrinking the two motor vehicle lanes from 13 feet to 11 feet, and expanding the shoulders from 2 feet to 4 feet, and then allowing bicycle access. We stand with Bicycle Coalition of Maine, Bike-Walk Alliance of New Hampshire, and others to adopt the Rockingham Planning Commission recommendation, and seek the temporary lifting of the limited access designation from the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge. It is likely that an online petition will be created shortly so that you can make your voice heard as well. If you'd like to get an alert when that page is ready to go, contact eric@greenway.org with the subject line "Piscataqua River bridge."

Northern Strand Community Trail Progress in Massachusetts

Great news from north of Boston! Steve Winslow of Bike to the Sea reports the following good news about the multi-town Northern Strand Community Trail, a critical link in the East Coast Greenway:

1. The Saugus Board of Selectmen voted to sign the MBTA lease. This is an important step.
2. The City of Everett received a Gateway Communities Grant to do more design work for their section of the trail from the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs.
3. Malden's new Mayor, Gary Christenson, has announced plans to fund the use of recycled asphalt surface on the Malden section of the trail.

Congratulations and thanks to the Bike to the Sea team! Mark June 3rd on your calendar for the 20th annual Bike to the Sea Day that will included a ribbon cutting for the Everett and Malden sections of the trail. More info at their website.

Public Meetings will Begin Soon on Merritt Parkway Trail
The Connecticut DOT plans to begin public meetings on the Merritt Parkway Trail in about a month. Time to rally the troops - those of us who are in favor of greater opportunities for healthy, safe, and sustainable transportation and recreation must make our voices heard! Contact eric@greenway.org (subject line: "Merritt") if you want to get Merritt Parkway Trail notifications. And bring your neighbors!
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Regional News: Mid Atlantic
More ECG Signs Coming Soon in New York, Pennsylvania, and DC

New York -- NYCDOT has announced that they will be working to sign the East Coast Greenway from the Bronx to the northern end of the Hudson River Greenway. They hope to complete it this year. Thank you NYCDOT, Hayes and Kimberly, your assistance is applauded.

Pennsylvania -- Delaware County will be signed in 2012. Thank you to the Delaware Valley Bicycle Club and the Delaware County Cycling Committee for their generous gifts that will sign all of Delaware County.

Washington DC -- DDOT will be signing the East Coast Greenway throughout the District this year. Thank you DDOT.

Great Events in New Jersey

Some great events will be happening in New Jersey this winter and spring. The New Jersey Bike Walk Summit will be held in New Brunswick on February 25th. Registration is limited so sign up early if you want to go. More info.

The FreeWalkers will once again be walking across New Jersey on the ECG. This is a fundraiser that supports the East Coast Greenway. There will be three walks to complete the journey across the state. It is an opportunity for a great personal challenge.

Saturday April 7th: FreeWalkers Great Canal Walk, TR2NB40, Trenton to New Brunswick walk - http://freewalkers.org/events/tr2nb40-great-canal-walk-2012

Saturday April 14th; FreeWalkers The Tween Walk NB2MP10, New Brunswick to Metro Park walk - http://freewalkers.org/events/nb2mp10-the-tween-walk-2012 http://nb2mp10.drupalgardens.com/

Saturday May 19th: The Big Walk, NJ2NY50, Metropark to Penn Station walk - http://freewalkers.org/events/nj2ny50-the-big-walk-2012 http://nj2ny50.org/

Cecil County Maryland Bicycle Plan Public Workshops

WILMAPCO, in partnership with Cecil County and its towns, Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration, residents, bicycle advocates, and interested stakeholders, has begun planning a bicycle network for the County and its municipalities. The Cecil County Bicycle Plan will identify a bicycle network that will connect cyclists to and within each of the towns and key destinations throughout the County. Public comments are being solicited at their website or at two scheduled workshops:

  1. Wednesday, February 1, 6:00 p.m., North East Town Hall, 106 South Main Street, North East, MD 21901
  2. Wednesday, February 8, 6:00 p.m., Cecilton Town Hall, 117 West Main Street, Cecilton, MD 21913

Additional public workshops will be announced later in other Cecil County towns.

In addition, WILMAPCO and the Town of Perryville, MD are finishing work on the Perryville Greenway Plan. The draft Plan incorporates the East Coast Greenway as well as other, connecting bicycle and pedestrian routes. Comments are welcome at their website throughout February; approval by the Town and WILMAPCO is anticipated for March 2012.

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Regional News: South Atlantic
ECG Traveler's Guide to Virginia

The ECG Traveler's Guide to Virginia is in high gear now. We need volunteers to go out on the route checking for missing sign posts, locations of amenities such as motels, markets, and bike shops, and check the accuracy of the turn and distance information. Contact eric@greenway.org (subject line: "VA guide") to volunteer.

North Carolina Route Update

The East Coast Greenway's Current Travel Route began as mostly on-road routing for cyclists who couldn't wait to try an ECG adventure. As we gain more miles of shared-use trails, the Current Travel Route adds them, to optimize the ECG experience.

The NC spine route, last updated in 2007, is being reviewed in an effort to include greenways built within the last 5 years. Improvements are to include tours of Raleigh's state capitol and Umstead State Park, greenways in Durham, Cary, Raleigh and Smithfield, plus a tweaking of the route through historic Wilmington.

In addition, the North Carolina and Virginia state committees are collaborating to relocate their state line crossing to the scenic lakefront community of Clarksville VA. Here's to a picturesque 2012.

- Article and photos by Dave Connelly, ECGA Volunteer

raleigh ECG

ECG in Smithfield

The ECG in Raleigh and Smithfield, NC

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Regional News: Southeast
Big Mango, Shout Hello to Margaritaville
South Florida trail cyclists in January took charge of the new year by overcoming one of two gaps that have defied an East Coast Greenway connection between Miami International Airport and Key West. The new 1.2-mile closure is a triumph of perseverance led by nonprofit Green Mobility Network.
Snapper Creek  Bridge

Green Mobility Network Chairman John Hopkins enjoys the inaugural group bike ride across the Snapper Creek bridge.

The closure runs beneath the elevated Metrorail commuter system along six-lane U.S. Highway 1 through light industry zones and behind retail strips, alongside bus stations, past queues at rail turnstiles, and to the new bike-ped bridge over on-ramps of the Snapper Creek Expressway. Crossings and signage need to improve in some areas, but augmented user demand will drive improvements.

With this gap closure, bikes on trail now combine with bikes on train and bikes on bus that extend bicycling commutes for up to 100 South Florida miles. Before mid-year, a sky-arching Metrorail spur will connect Miami International Airport with the system's main line.

Arriving passengers will roll their bikes onto trains through the heart of downtown, disembark after an hour ride at Brickell Station -- or at any of seven other stations at mile intervals south to Dadeland -- and continue without gap to Florida City. There, 17 miles of newly-widened shoulders along U.S. 1 accommodate cyclists before Key Largo and the 106-mile Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail to Key West -- 150 miles altogether from Brickell Station.

Closure of the Dadeland Gap now foretells the filling of remaining gaps north to the Georgia line and with that, of a Florida east coast where cost-efficient personal mobility along public right of way ensures health and fitness benefits from merely going to work and home again. You have to love the idea that getting to and from work is good for your health. Welcome to 2012, the year that the ECGA and Florida partner up and down to finish closing the gaps.

- Article by Herb Hiller

New Amelia Island Trail Coming Soon

Nassau County has agreed to commit up to $10,000 per year to maintain the planned $2 million 6.3 mile off-road trail section on Amelia Island. The Amelia Island Trail (AIT) team plans to set up a non-profit to raise another $5,000 per year in contributions or in-kind services so we can have excellent maintenance of this Amelia Island Trail section.

A new Amelia Island trail map brochure came out recently with the current trails on it. The map can also be downloaded here. The current trails include four Casual Trails and four Advanced Trails. The current trail mileage on this (12 mile x 2 mile) island is 40 miles of trails. Fort Clinch State Park, on the north end of the island has perhaps the best bike trails on the island. The future off-road trail will add another 6.3 miles on the island and another 6 miles on the island just south of us (Big Talbot Island) by March 2013.

- Article and Photo by ECGA Volunteer Phil Scanlan

Amelia Island Trail

Jane and Phil Scanlan on the Amelia Island Parkway's canopy covered sidewalk.

More Florida ECG News

Office of Greenways and Trails: In December, we began a new level of engagement with Florida’s Office of Greenways and Trails. We’ve become principle partners in the second update since the 1990s of the Florida Greenways and Trails Master Plan and maps due for publication roughly a year from now. We have identified chief gaps in our Florida trail that will go onto a Florida priority list. And tied to next year’s first-ever Cabot Cheese Community Tour, the Alliance together with OGT will host a webinar for interests through our 14 counties. Further tied to this, Florida is newly at work with Trail Program Coordinator Eric Weis to update all Florida pages on greenway.org.

Hollywood: City of Hollywood Community Redevelopment Association Executive Director Jorge Camejo, Director of the Hollywood Office of Tourism Judy A. Erickson, and the ECGA’s Herb Hiller will discuss a plan to engage CRAs throughout Broward County in support of our trail. Judy and Herb met in December with Acting City Manager Catherine Swanson-Rivenbach and President Kathy Koch of Ambit Advertising Public Relations to lay the groundwork.

Martin County: Our trail through southern Martin County rolled ahead when the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Acquisition and Restoration Council, under its management responsibilities, approved adjustments to a previously stalled corridor. 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.

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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