$100 million invested in East Coast Greenway development in 2020

17 white oak greenway nc by dave connelly
Funding for the White Oak Creek Greenway Phase IV in Cary, North Carolina, was part of $100 million invested in the East Coast Greenway in 2020. (Photo by Dave Connelly)

Thanks to funding from a number of sources, including federal, state and local governments, $100 million, across 13 states, was invested in continued development of the East Coast Greenway in 2020.

Key projects funded include Rhode Island’s Providence River Pedestrian Bridge, recently designated as part of the East Coast Greenway, and the Elkton Road Pathway in Delaware; design of Georgia’s Darien River Bridge; and multiple aspects of Florida’s St Johns River-to-Sea Loop. 

Impactful completed projects include the White Oak Creek Greenway Phase IV in Cary, North Carolina, and Georgia’s Three Rivers Trail - Laurel Island Parkway, both among the 23 new segments receiving official East Coast Greenway designation in 2020. 

Last year’s funding of East Coast Greenway projects brings the total investment in the 3,000-mile, Maine-to-Florida route to approximately $1.5 billion since the Alliance’s founding in 1991. 

More than 1,000 miles of the route is now housed on traffic-free greenways and trails with that total poised for continued expansion following 2020’s investments. A large portion of last year’s funding was for planning and design work on soon-to-be built trails and greenways. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have turned to the nation’s greenways for safe, equitable transportation, exercise and recreation open to all. Trail use is at an all-time high, as the East Coast Greenway became the country’s most visited park in 2020 by hosting an estimated 50 million runs, rides and walks. 

Along the East Coast and beyond, there is momentum for continued expansion of the nation’s greenway network. 

President Joe Biden has proposed a $2 trillion climate plan, and investment in sustainable modes of transportation - including greenways and trails - is a significant way to mitigate climate change, among other benefits. 

“I know we think trains, planes and automobiles, but what about bikes, scooters, wheelchairs … Look, roads aren’t only for vehicles. We gotta make sure that pedestrians and individuals and bicycles and businesses can all coexist on the same roadway,” new Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said recently. 

A number of additional projects along the East Coast Greenway route are ripe for federal infrastructure investment, which, according to studies, would bring a 10-fold return on investment in economic, health and environmental benefits.

Nearly 200 organizations, including recent additions like the Greenways Foundation of Indiana and Chicago-based Openlands, have joined the East Coast Greenway-led movement for $10 billion in federal infrastructure investment in greenways and trails, dubbed Greenway Stimulus

schuylkill banks walking stroller with dog
Philadelphia's Schuylkill River Trail is a key artery for recreation and active transportation.
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