Where can you find elite runners or casual joggers, fathers teaching daughters to ride a bike, three generations out for a stroll, teens traveling to town, bird-watchers, moms pushing carriages, people in wheelchairs enjoying fresh air, train commuters, pedestrians admiring artwork and interpretive signs, walkers of all types, bikers of all speeds, and a plethora of delightful dogs?
Photo by ipet photo on Unsplash
If you guessed the local rail trails, you were right.
The mission of the Coastal Trails Coalition (CTC) is to assist in developing pathways that connect Amesbury, Salisbury, Newburyport and Newbury. Part of the CTC’s 30-mile network of rail trails, shared-use paths and bike lanes make up the local section of the East Coast Greenway, a 3,000-mile trail from Key West, Florida, to Calais, Maine. In Massachusetts, the North Shore section of the Greenway is known as “Border to Boston.”
Formed in 2004 with the support of the Essex National Heritage Commission, National Park Service Rivers & Trails Program and Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, CTC continues to be a tax-exempt, all-volunteer organization. The coalition invests 100 percent of donations, grants and membership contributions in the trail networks. The four cities and towns build and maintain the trails, but the advocacy of the coalition helps attract federal and state funds for construction projects.
Last fall, the cities of Amesbury and Newburyport celebrated the opening of the William Lloyd Garrison Trail Shared-Use Path on the Interstate 95 Whittier Bridge.
The trail provides pedestrian and bicycle travel across the Merrimack River extending from the Route 113 Park and Ride in Newburyport to Route 110 near the Amesbury-Salisbury line.
A southern link between the Park and Ride and Hale Street now exists, courtesy of the Parker River Clean Water Association. That group’s 1.2-mile Gloria Braunhardt Bike Path, part of the Little River Trail system, has been welcomed into the CTC network.
Additional construction will begin this year to join trails between Salisbury and Amesbury.
The Carriagetown Connector will run under I-95 and complete a loop from the Garrison Trail to Salisbury’s Ghost Trail and Amesbury’s Riverwalk. To connect to Amesbury, the CTC is working with the city to link the Riverwalk to Elm Street. Also in Amesbury, the Riverwalk plans to extend into the new Heritage Park along the Powow River.
The City of Newburyport is working to complete Phase II of the Clipper City Rail Trail. The 1.4-mile completed section extends from the harbor along Water Street through the South End, passing under High Street at March’s Hill and continues to Parker Street in Newbury. The city is seeking funding to clean up a contaminated portion of the trail on Water Street, behind the city’s wastewater treatment plant, and for a safe connection from Parker Street to the commuter rail station.
Now that two-thirds of CTC’s trail map is complete, the coalition is looking to complete the northern end of the Border to Boston Trail in Salisbury. Later this year, construction begins on a path that will connect the Old Eastern Marsh Trail to the Seabrook town line.
This 2.3-mile trail will give users access to the New Hampshire Seacoast. On CTC’s southern boundary in Newbury, design of the Border to Boston Trail from Newbury through Georgetown and Boxford is fully funded and underway.
The coalition also sponsors trail cleanups and community events, such as Salisbury’s Art Stroll. Held on the Old Eastern Marsh Trail in May, the Art Stroll celebrates art and nature and offers food, music and family activities.
In Newburyport, the CTC hosts the Slow Bike Race fundraiser on the Wednesday of Yankee Homecoming. The “race,” held on Pleasant Street at Brown Square, awards prizes to the last rider across the finish line.
The Coastal Trails Coalition is grateful to our volunteers and citizens in our communities for their support. Please visit us on Facebook or check out www.CoastalTrails.org. for more information.