August 2011

In This Issue...


National News
  • Greetings from the Director
  • USDOT Grants will help the ECG

Spotlight

  • Route Spotlight - Calais to Portland, Maine

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

  • New England Bike Walk Summit - Oct. 7th
  • Massachusetts Recreational Trail Grants

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

  • East River Greenway Proposal in NYC
  • Bike Philly, September 11th

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

  • Moving Planet Ride in NC, Sept. 24th
  • Plans in Charleston, SC
  • $1 Million for Beaufort Rail-Trail

Regional News: Southeast (GA, FL)

  • ECGA Expansion in Miami, FL
  • Heart of Florida Loop Trail
  • ECGA Meetings in October


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

Staff
Dennis Markatos-Soriano: Executive Director

Herb Hiller: Southeast Region Consultant

Eric Weis: Trail Program Coordinator

Debbie West: Office Manager / Communications

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National ECGA News

Greetings from ECGA Executive Director, Dennis Markatos-Soriano

Riding Our Northernmost 320 Miles

Dear East Coast Greenway teammates,

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of joining a group of ECG members to explore our northernmost section from Calais on the border with Canada to Portland, Maine. Twenty-five of us biked 40 to 65 miles per day through the blueberry-filled hills of Maine. It was a great way for Trustees, staff, and members to get to know the route we are all working hard to develop.

The ride was an inspiring first leg in a Week-A-Year ECG Tour that will have us biking every mile of our Greenway by 2020. For those of us that find it difficult to take two months off for a thru-ride, this breaks the experience down into manageable segments. The idea came from Volunteer Web Coordinator Todd Kurland and was developed by Board Chair David Read, who arranged a bus for us to get from Portland to Calais.

blueberries and bikes in Maine

A rest stop in Maine

After a border photo alongside staff from our international partners at the Trans-Canada Trail, we began a wonderful adventure that included cool weather 20 degrees below what we've been experiencing in North Carolina. As we connected with beautiful communities throughout Maine, we made sure our cue sheet directions on the website were up-to-date and determined next steps to make our route better – including supporting a more compact surface for sections of the lovely Down East Sunrise Trail and fully marking the route with ECG signs.

Let us know if you'd like to join the ride next summer from Portland, ME, to Hartford, CT. It will be a self-guided opportunity to see both the amazing progress our project is making and the sections we need to improve as we make the East Coast Greenway safe and accessible to all.

Together, we are building a sustainable & healthy America,



Photo by Steve Rosenbaum
 

USDOT Grants Help the ECG

On Wednesday, August 17, USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood announced over $400 million in federal grants for state highway projects. Some of these projects will enhance the ECG experience.

  • DC: $1 million will be used to rehabilitate the Arlington Memorial Bridge, which the ECG uses to cross the Potomac River.
  • VA: $1.95 million will go toward safety and security improvements to the Scotland Ferry, which the ECG uses to cross the James River from Jamestown to Scotland, on the Historic Coastal Route between Richmond, VA and Wilmington, NC.
  • NC: over $900k is slated to design and build the next phase of the South Tar River Greenway, planned to be part of the ECG's Historic Coastal Route.
  • SC: over $1 million was included to construct a 4.6-mile section of the Beaufort Rail-Trail, which we hope will be part of the ECG between Charleston and Savannah.
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Route Spotlight - Calais to Portland, Maine
First ECGA Week-a-Year Tour Kicks Off in Maine

At the Canadian Border in Maine

ECG Tour Starts at the Canadian Border in Maine

At 5:30 AM on August 7th, twenty five blurry-eyed but excited cyclists loaded up their bikes in a van and trailer in Portland, Maine before boarding a tour bus for a long shuttle up to the northern terminus of the East Coast Greenway. This was the first year of the Week-a-Year concept where trustees and members of the Greenway will cycle approximately 350 mile sections of the ECG each year. We started in the northern states as there is currently more trail on the ground there. We will work our way south as more off-road sections of ECG get developed.

Many in the group had a goal of seeing sections of the trail they have been working on and advocating for. ECGA board chair David Read also had a personal goal of having a lobster roll and fresh blueberry pie each day of the week-long tour. His justification: “We need to show our trail helps stimulate local economies - someone has to do it!”

The first two days of the ride were spent on the newly opened 87 mile Down East Sunrise Trail. During the ride the group experienced first-hand that the current surface is a bit rough for road bikes, so the ECGA leadership has already been in touch with the trail manager about laying down a more bike friendly surface as the trail is maintained.

This northern section of the ECG goes through some beautiful but fairly rural areas. As a result, the ride almost didn’t happen because there were not enough hotels and B&Bs to house a group of this size in one of the more remote sections of mid-Maine. That was until Unity College, known for its environmental curriculum, offered to put our group up in their dorms -- and feed us. Kate Grenier of Unity College said: “We love the ECG mission and it’s very aligned with that of ours -- you're always welcome to stay here.”

Seven days later the group rode back into Portland past the restaurants along Commercial Street and then back into the parking lot they had departed from a week earlier. Next year the group plans to do the next segment from Portland, ME through NH, MA, and RI to Hartford, CT. If you wish to be put on the list for information about the 2012 ride, please email info@greenway.org.

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Regional News: New England

New England Bike-Walk Summit Just Around the Corner!

This year's New England Bike-Walk Summit is shaping up to be fantastic! This one-day conference will take place on Friday, October 7th at the historic Providence Biltmore in beautiful downtown Providence, RI. The nine breakout sessions will cover a broad range of topics and issues of interest to the full range of bicycle and pedestrian stakeholders. For up-to-date information on topics, how to become a presenter, to register, or become a sponsor, visit the conference website: http://www.newenglandbikewalksummit.org.

Summit logo

Massachusetts ECG Receives Trails Program Grants

Good news for two ECG segments in MA! Congratulations to the Northern Strand Community Trail (NSCT) and the Topsfield Linear Common for winning awards for construction ($84k and $50k respectively). These grants are a true testament to the hard work and strong vision of trails in Malden, Revere, Saugus, Lynn, and Topsfield. The resulting trails will not just be great local facilities for recreation and transportation, but will enhance the East Coast Greenway experience north of Boston. The NSCT also received $12,500 from Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and the Coca-Cola Foundation to serve as matching funds for the Rec Trails Grant.

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Regional News: Mid Atlantic
Support the East River Greenway Proposal

The ECGA is glad to be part of the Friends of the East River Greenway. This coalition is building support for a proposal to close the gap in the East River Greenway between 38th and 60th streets. This project would increase the overall open space on the East Side by about 130,000 square feet, and allow for people to walk and bike safely along the river instead of battling heavy traffic on First and Second Avenues. (Read about the project and voice your support to City officials at http://www.eastrivergreenwaynyc.org/.)

The project would be funded by the expansion of the United Nations campus. A new promenade along the East River from 38th to 60th streets and other park investments are part of the proposal. Under state legislation, lawmakers have until October 10 to obtain agreement on a Memorandum of Understanding among many stakeholders, including the U.N. and the City of New York. (Details on the complex proposal appear on the website created by the supporting state legislators: www.eastsideopenspace.com.)

Several public forums are coming up to inform the community and receive public feedback. The remaining two forums will be on Sept. 8th, 4 to 7 PM, at the Sutton Place Synagogue, 225 E. 51st St.; and on Sept. 20, . 5 to 8 PM at the NYU Langone Medical Center, 550 First Ave. (enter from 30th St. east of First Ave.).

The East Coast Greenway Alliance is playing a key role in building a coalition of nonprofit organizations to demonstrate public support for the proposal. Nineteen organizations have already signed on. Our work on the effort has been made possible by a generous contribution by the Anderson Rogers Foundation of New York.

ECGA Executive Director, Dennis Markatos-Soriano, was the first speaker at the public forum on August 4th. He says about the project, "Elected officials from Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg to City Councilman Garodnick and Congresswoman Maloney are hearing overwhelming public support for their plan of a continuous linear park that's safe for active recreation and sustainable commuting."

east river before east river after

Photos courtesy of eastrivergreenwaynyc.org

Ride in Philly!

On Sunday, September 11th, Bike Philly, the largest bicycle event in the Center of Philadelphia, is on! This is a family friendly event, so bring the kids. There are 3 car-free loops that you can ride - 10, 20 or 35 miles. To register for the rides please go to http://www.bicyclecoalition.org/content/bike-philly.

Visit the East Coast Greenway tent at the festival after the ride to learn more about the East Coast Greenway in Philadelphia, your neighborhood, and throughout the East Coast from Canada to Key West. If you have any questions, please contact Andy Hamilton at AndyHamiltonECG@gmail.com.

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Regional News: South Atlantic
Moving Planet Bike Rides September 24th, to Durham, NC

The ECGA will lead two FREE bike rides from Chapel Hill and Raleigh to downtown Durham on September 24th. We are partnering with 350.org on the Moving Planet event to raise awareness and inspire action to mitigate climate change. The event goes from 2 - 5 PM at the Durham Farmer's Market. Get details about the event and the rides at moving-planet.org, or ww.crosstrianglegreenway.org.

Riders in Durham, NC

Ride with us to Durham, NC, Sept. 24th! (Photo by Jerry Markatos)

Safer Route in Charleston, SC

We previously reported that the City of Charleston was proposing to take a car travel lane from one of the Ashley River bridges (connecting the historic downtown to parts west) and devote that space to bicyclists and walkers. Well, those plans are moving forward. Please see this article:
http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2011/aug/17/state-next-stop-for-ashley-bike-plan/
and this editorial:
http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2011/aug/17/bike-lane-to-fill-missing-link/

Over $1 Million Allocated for Beaufort Rail Trail

Another exciting development: the USDOT has allocated over $1 million for development of the Beaufort Rail-Trail! This will fund the construction of 4.6 miles of trail in the densely populated center section of the trail between Allison Road and SC 170. Read about this great project on the Beaufort Rail Trail blog site: http://railtrailbeaufort.wordpress.com/.

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Regional News: Southeast
ECG Expansion in Miami, Florida

Miami Beach municipal staff and civic leaders will meet the last week in August with ECGA SE Program Consultant Herb Hiller to review plans for a trail that parallels the beach. This trail will become part of the East Coast Greenway through the famed resort city.

Heart of Florida Loop

The Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation has embarked on a program to form a long mothballed portion of the East Coast Greenway that will extend southwest across Florida from St. Augustine to Tampa Bay and back east to Titusville. On its eastern side between Palatka and DeBary, the trail, known as the Heart of Florida Loop, will overlap the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop, forming a lateral figure 8.

National ECGA Meetings in Florida, October 21 - 23

We are excited about the upcoming ECGA Fall Trail Council and Board meetings that will be held in Stuart and Jupiter Florida on October 21 - 23rd. All are welcome to join us at the Trail Council meeting on October 22nd in Stuart!

Reserve your hotel room now! We have a group rate of $59.99+ tax (includes full breakfast) at the Best Western Plus in Downtown Stuart. To get this rate, you must state that you're a member of East Coast Greenway group meeting there. Contact them at 772-600-2000, sales@bestwesternstuart.com, or www.bestwesternstuart.com/.

Thanks to landscape architect David W. Larsen, a Senior Project Manager of Planning and Landscape Architecture at Atkins. The global engineering and design consulting firm will be principal sponsor of the ECGA Trail Council and board meetings. Also facilitating the meetings are the Florida Park Service, Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, the Martin County Engineering Department and Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the City of Jupiter. Thank you to all our sponsors!

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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 2011 East Coast Greenway Alliance