Maine East Coast Greenway, Eastern Trail expansion celebrated

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Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, right, gestures towards the $700,000 check she presented during Friday’s event. (Left: Kristine Keeney, East Coast Greenway Alliance Northern New England Manager; Center: Mike Pardue, Kennebunk Town Manager)

 

KENNEBUNK, MAINE — On Friday, May 20, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and members from the Eastern Trail Alliance and the East Coast Greenway Alliance celebrated $700,000 in new federal funding to expand the Eastern Trail with an event in Kennebunk. The funding, secured by Pingree in the Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations Bill alongside nine other community projects, will expand the Eastern Trail 11 miles from Kennebunk to North Berwick, supporting the development of an active transportation corridor and recreational trail that offers significant social, economic, and environmental benefits.

“With this federal funding, Maine’s southern communities will be connected with a new, 11-mile stretch of off-road trail, supporting local economies and fostering a safe and sustainable route through some of Maine’s most populated areas,” said Congresswoman Pingree. “I’m proud I was able to secure the funding to support this expansion through my role on the House Appropriations Committee.”

“The expansion of trail south towards our goal of getting to the Maine New Hampshire border will provide a significant investment in off-road trails in Southern Maine,” said Jon Kachmar, Eastern Trail Executive Director.

“This funding is a major step towards completing the Eastern Trail and East Coast Greenway in southern Maine, which will expand economic development, outdoor recreation and equitable active transportation opportunities in the region” said Kristine Keeney, East Coast Greenway Alliance Northern New England Manager. “I am excited to continue to work alongside the Eastern Trail and other local partners to complete the East Coast Greenway in Maine."

“The Eastern Trail is tremendously popular with the residents and visitors of Kennebunk. The $700,000 in new federal funding, is sure to foster increased economic growth and outdoor recreation for Kennebunk and the region,” said Kennebunk Town Manager Mike Pardue.

“This is a great project and it will be a wonderful addition to the health of our community providing transportation and recreational opportunities, especially for cycling enthusiasts,” said North Berwick Town Manager Dwayne Morin. “We have two large employers in town, and having this off-road trail access will be a tremendous benefit to their employees, providing alternate means of traveling to work. I’m pleased to see this progress.”

“The Town of Wells has been a supporter of the Eastern Trail for many years because we recognize the value access to outdoor recreation has for the people of Wells and the value the trail will bring to our tourism economy. The Eastern Trail is a wonderful example of what vision paired with long-term commitment can do to create a vibrant community resource,” said Wells Town Manager Larissa Crockett.

The Eastern Trail is the Southern Maine portion of the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway that traverses the East Coast between Calais, Maine and Key West, Fla. Based on a 2021 economic impact analysis, there are 250,000 people using the trail annually, and each user spends an average of $118 per day. The trail also supports 364 jobs across the state, $12.5 million in earnings and $32.1 million in sales, with most sales coming from overnight lodging, food and drink, and retail items.

With the House passage of the Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations Bill last month, Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Chair Pingree secured millions of dollars in funding for ten Maine community projects, including the $700,000 to expand the Eastern Trail 11 miles between Kennebunk and North Berwick. Titled “Blaze the Trail South,” the project will support the development of an active transportation corridor and recreational trail that offers significant social, economic and environmental benefits. 

When complete, Blaze the Trail South will add 25 miles resulting in 25 miles of off-road trail connecting 7 communities from Kennebunk to Kittery in one of the most densely populated regions in the state (York County). This will provide a safe and convenient facility for bicycle commuters, recreational riders, walkers, runners, and wheelchair users for transportation, health, and outdoor enjoyment.

Pingree is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.

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