Regional News: April 2016

Southeast

Photo: Putnam Blueways and Trails Citizen Support Organization

Photo: Putnam Blueways and Trails Citizen Support Organization

FL: Great news for Florida residents and visitors! In a tightly contested competition, the Florida Greenways and Trails Council (FGTC) has chosen to award over $40 million over five years toward completing a 260-mile section of the East Coast Greenway (ECG). Read our blog article with all of the details here!

In more great Florida news, the St. Johns Ferry will continue to run! For Floridians and everyone traveling the East Coast Greenway in Florida: ECG users are assured of a safe, fast, and efficient connection across the St. Johns River along our coastal route between Mayport and George Island, FL.

St. Johns River Ferry

St. Johns River Ferry

After the possibility of permanent shutdown of the St. Johns River Ferry, the community rallied their support to continue service, and their message was heard loud and clear. At a mid-March meeting, the Jacksonville City Council voted to approve the transfer of the Ferry to the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA), effective April 1st.

Big thanks to John Crescimbeni, Councilman and Chair of the Ferry Commission, Councilman Bill Gulliford also of the commission, “Ferry Godmother” Elaine Brown, and to the Friends of the St. Johns River Ferry and their “ambassadors.” Thanks also to Mark Fernandez of HMS Ferries and to the captains and crew members of the Jean Ribault for their guidance and support for the Keep the Ferry program, Ferry Fest, and Ambassador activities.


South Atlantic

SC: The Ashley River bridge bicycle and pedestrian project is currently in a temporary testing phase to assess traffic impacts. Charleston Moves, a key non-profit partner and ally, held a public rally outside Charleston City Hall this month to encourage officials to proceed as quickly as possible on the project which is aimed at converting one lane of the bridge for permanent bicyclist and pedestrian use.

Creating this safe crossing of the Ashley River is a key priority for the East Coast Greenway. A recent letter to the editor from ECGA Executive Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano was published in the Post & Courier on the importance of this safe bridge crossing. More information about the project, including conceptual photos and a flyover video, is available from the Charleston County Transportation Development website

A huge thanks to the City of North Myrtle Beach and the East Coast Greenway SC State Committee for the recent installation of ECG wayfinding signs. Seven miles of the ECG route are now signed to aid in navigation through the City of North Myrtle Beach. Also, special thanks to Kenny Fox for his donation of the ECG way-finding signs and hardware. 

NC: Wake County is working on a plan to create more greenways to better connect where we live, work, learn, and play. ​The goal of the Wake County Greenway System Plan is to determine clear guidelines and a plan that will be used for future trail planning and development. East Coast Greenway Alliance staff and supporters are actively participating in this initiative. Please visit the project website to view the draft plan and provide comment by May 20, 2016. 

The Cape Fear Council of Governments and NCDOT are working together to create safe and connected routes for bicycling in the Cape Fear region. This will cover Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, and Pender Counties as well as southern Bladen, western Onslow, and southern Sampson Counties. The plan aims to use bicycling as a tool for improvements in mobility, safety, health, economy, environment, and overall quality of life. East Coast Greenway Alliance staff and supporters serve on the project steering committee. To learn more and to get involved, please visit the project website.

Saturday, May 7, 2016, Durham, NC – 3rd Annual Toast to Trails Cycle & Siphosted by the East Coast Greenway Alliance and Cloer Family Vineyards. Join us for this 25-mile round-trip bike ride on the scenic southern portion of the American Tobacco Trail (ATT). The half-way point features a visit to the beautiful Cloer Family Vineyards in Apex, NC.

Lunch and a wine tasting are included in the ticket price. ECGA members receive a discount on tickets, and non-member tickets include a year membership! Read more and register here.

VA: More than 30 leaders from across Virginia recently met for the second in-person meeting of the Virginia State Trails Advisory Committee (STAC). The meeting focused on the support needed to move greenway and trail development forward in Virginia.

Attendees provided input on the planning efforts for the Virginia Outdoors Plan. The discussion included strategies to foster communication and networking among trail stakeholders, approaches to promote and market trail values and benefits, and strategies to increase tourism and commercial activities associated with the statewide trail system. Full meeting minutes are available here.


Mid Atlantic

NJ: Have You Biked or Walked Across the Meadowlands? We’re gearing up to develop a better Meadowlands crossing. If you have used the ECG to cross the Meadowlands, please tell us about your experience by emailing andy@greenway.org.

William Penn Foundation ED, Laura Sparks and PEC Executive VP, Patrick Starr at the Circuit's Kickoff Event.

William Penn Foundation ED Laura Sparks and PEC Executive VP Patrick Starr at the Circuit’s Kickoff Event.

PARunners, cyclists and walkers in Greater Philadelphia: the Circuit Trails are officially open for the season! There is a new user-friendly website to help you explore new trails. The Circuit is a network of greenways, including the ECG and other trails, from Central and Southern New Jersey to Philadelphia and the surrounding Pennsylvania counties. 

In Mid-April, civic officials, corporate representatives, cyclists and trail fans unveiled the Circuit’s new Proud to Trail campaign for the region’s trail network. The press conference also marked the start of Opening Weekend for the Circuit where partner organizations hosted more than 15 trail-related events across the region.

Proud to Trail and the new website are designed to engage trail users, evoke a sense of pride in the network, and serve as a rallying cry for the trail advocacy work that is happening across the nine-county Circuit region. We salute the Circuit’s excellent work and are proud to be one of their regional partners!

ECGA Board Secretary Brandon Douglass speaks at the REI Soho event.

ECGA Board Secretary Brandon Douglass speaks at the REI Soho event.

NYIn April, the New York ECG Committee hosted “Discover the East Coast Greenway,” to spread the word about our project in the region and down the Eastern Seaboard.

More than 40 people attended this event held at ECGA major sponsor REI’s store in New York City.

New York Committee members outlined the vision for the ECG and provided a number of specific ways users could take advantage of this tremendous resource. 

They shared details about upcoming bike rides, demonstrated how to use the ECG online Trip Planner and ECG app, and answered other questions about the ECG. Huge thanks to REI, the folks who attended, and to our NY Committee for planning and hosting this informative event!

 

MID-ATLANTIC EVENTS

Saturday, April 30, 2016, 10:30 AM – Bike-Walk-Run in Support of the Merritt Parkway Trail. Join the Merritt Parkway Trail Alliance (MPTA) at this fun, free, family-friendly event! Meet at one of the two “Park & Rides” on either side of Exit 23 off the Saw Mill River Parkway along the North County Trailway in Elmsford, NY. For maps, additional info, and to RSVP and invite others, please visit the MPTA’s Facebook event page here.

Sunday, May 15, 2016 – 5-Island Ride. Join the ECG NY Committee for a 29-mile bike ride that begins in Manhattan and crosses into the Bronx using the re-opened High Bridge, then continues to Randalls and Ward Islands, Queens, and Roosevelt Island. Read more and register here.

Saturday, June 11, 2016 – National Parks Ride. The ECG NY Committee is leading a 25-mile one-way bike ride to celebrate the 100th birthday of the National Parks Service. The ride will go from Lower Manhattan to St. Paul’s Church, a Revolutionary War site in Westchester County. After enjoying Colonial Day re-enactments, we’ll return by Metro North or the 5 line. Read more and register here.

For a complete listing of all the exciting events coming up in New York, please visit the ECG NY State Committee website.


New England

CT: The Merritt Parkway Trail Alliance (MPTA) has launched a Change.org petition, with over 500 supporters and growing, to show support for a future 37-mile multi-use public greenway stretching from Greenwich to Milford, Connecticut. The Merritt Parkway Trail is an essential missing link in the East Coast Greenway. It would run along a 150-foot wide right-of-way adjacent to the beautiful and iconic Merritt Parkway. The MPTA is a group of advocacy volunteers working to create this safe and attractive public trail for both recreation and transportation. Join them for a family friendly Bike-Walk-Run event to support the trail on Saturday, April 30.

ME: The Eastern Trail is the southernmost section in Maine on the East Coast Greenway. With 22 of its 65 miles currently off-road, they are working hard to close the gaps.

Let's close this gap!

Eastern Trail. Let’s close this gap!

They are currently fundraising for the construction of a 1.6 mile gap between South Portland and Scarborough, which could be completed by December, 2017. This will create a 16-mile continuous non-motorized, multi-use corridor. To help “Close the Gap,” the Eastern Trail Alliance (ETA) is providing up to $50,000 to match donations made before November 1, 2016.  Join them at their Annual Meeting to learn more.  

Heading south, the Eastern Trail has made progress toward adding 19 off-road miles from Kennebunk to South Berwick! Maine DOT has toured the section. The Unitil Corporation, an electricity and natural gas utility company, and the ETA are negotiating a co-location agreement for the corridor. Kennebunk and Wells are providing preliminary design and have recently received funding from Maine DOT to start survey work. Mile by mile, the Eastern Trail is getting there!

NEW ENGLAND Events:

Saturday, April 30, 2016 – Bike-Walk-Run in Support of the Merritt Parkway Trail. Join our friends from the Merritt Parkway Trail Alliance for a family-friendly event on the North County Trailway in Elmsford, NY – an example of what the future Merritt Parkway Trail could be! Please click here to learn more.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016 – Massachusetts Committee Meeting at the Lynn Museum & Historical Society. The meeting will be held at 580 Washington Street in Lynn, MA from 10 am – noon. For more information please contact molly@greenway.org.

Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Willimantic River Rail Trail Opening. Join our friends from CT Department of Transportation and the CT Department Energy and Environmental Protection, the Town of Windham, the Last Green Valley and others in celebrating the newly constructed connection between the ECG’s Air Line North and Hop River State Park Trails. Meet at the Air Line State Park Trail Bridge over the Willimantic River at 11:30 am. Please click here for more information.

Sunday, May 15, 2016 – Bicycle Tour the Blackstone River Bikeway with the ECGA! Join the ECGA’s New England staff, Molly Henry and Eric Weis, for a 44-mile bike tour. We’ll stop at Kelly House for a historical presentation with NPS Park Rangers, eat lunch in the Woonsocket area and get a sneak peek into the future with VHB’s Bill DeSantis who will lead us through the soon-to-open section of Blackstone River Greenway in Massachusetts. Read more and register hereRide starts 9am at India Point Park in Providence, RI. Rain Date: Sunday, May 22nd.

Thursday, May 19, 2016 – Green Drinks, 5-7 PM. In celebration of National Bike Month, please join the ECGA and the Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition on May 19 for our 3rd Annual Green Drinks. Learn about what the two organizations are up to and how they are making bicycling and walking more accessible to people of Rhode Island and along the entire Eastern Seaboard. The event will take place 5-7 pm at the ECGA’s New England regional office (also Providence’s secret vintage bicycle museum) located at 76 Dorrance Street, Suite 301, Providence, RI. FREE secure indoor bicycle parking and refreshments provided. Hope to see you there!

This blog post appeared in our April 2016 E-Newsletter – click this link to read the newsletter in full.

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