Critical link in the Eastern Trail set to open soon | News

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Critical link in the Eastern Trail set to open soon

KENNEBUNK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A critical link in the Eastern Trail, a 60 mile long multi-use recreation trail stretching from South Portland to Kittery, is set to open soon.

"I think for the first time the Eastern Trail is really on the map," stated Bob Hamblen, president of the Eastern Trail Alliance.  "We feel like we are opening the door a little bit and saying, world come on in.  We've got a trail, we've got a new bridge, we are building more trail as we speak, so come in and check us out."

What has Hamblen so excited is construction on a $3 million bridge spanning the Maine Turnpike, connecting two sections of trail, will be complete in the next week to ten days.

"The visibility, the high profile, that our new bridge is going to enjoy, we think is the best publicity that we could put out there," explained Hamblen.  "Tourists, users of the turnpike, are going to be constantly reminded that there is a new, multi-use transportation and recreation corridor - the Eastern Trail - available in their backyards and at their fingertips."

The approaching milestone has officials with the East Coast Greenway ecstatic as well.

"The Eastern Trail is a sub-component of the 3,000 mile planned East Coast Greenway, of which about 30% is done," said David Read, chairman of the East Coast Greenway's Board of Trustees.  "It is expensive infrastructure, but it is the only way to really connect trails in such a car based society."

2011 marks the 20th anniversary of the beginning of planning and creation the East Coast Greenway, which when complete, will run from Calais to Key West, Florida.  The group's goal is to have the entire route be off-road to ensure the safety of kids and other users from motorized vehicles.

Read says several major sections of the Greenway in New England are being worked on, with much of the trail from Boston south to New Haven, Connecticut already complete.  Work is underway north of Boston and in New Hampshire to complete other sections.

In Maine, once the turnpike bridge construction is complete, 85% of the trail from South Portland to Kennebunk will be finished according to Hamblen.  He says the two organizations are working together to focus on trail work in far southern Maine.

While work on the bridge should be wrapped up in the next week or so, the official opening is scheduled to take place on September 28th.

The Eastern Trail Alliance will be holding their major annual fundraiser, the 8th Annual Maine Lighthouse Ride, on September 10th, with proceeds being used to support future trail development and maintinenance. 




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