As documented in the 2020 book, RECONOMICS: The Path To Resilient Prosperity, reconnecting places is often the most overlooked—and the most potentially valuable—element of community and regional revitalization and resilience efforts.
The East Coast of the United States has long benefitted from the connectivity offered by the Appalachian Trail. But in recent years, a trail project with much more community revitalization potential has arisen: the East Coast Greenway. I’m happy to report that it’s going strong, and support is increasing on many levels.
Across eight states stretching from Maine to Florida, 10 different East Coast Greenway and trail-adjacent projects will be supported by a record $22.4 million in Congressionally-directed spending in 2023, according to recent announcements.
“I am incredibly proud of our field staff and local partners who inspired 13 members of Congress to fund continued East Coast Greenway progress,” said Allison Burson, the East Coast Greenway Alliance’s National Greenway Director.
“This record-setting funding continues the momentum behind our transformative effort to complete the East Coast Greenway and develop greenways for all,” she added.
An inclusion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, this year’s funding is highlighted by $7.8 million for the Eastern Trail connector and on-road improvements in Saco and Biddeford, Maine, secured by Sen. Susan Collins.
This funding will make improvements to a high-crash location, pedestrian and bicycle lanes and intersections.
Secured by Sen. Jack Reed, $3.2 million was allocated to developing a strong connection between the Woonasquatucket River Greenway and the Washington Secondary Bike Path, an important link from Cranston through Olneyville, Smith Hill and Silver Lake into Providence, Rhode Island.
“The bike path is for everyone and it promotes healthy living,” Reed said.
In Anne Arundel County, Maryland, $2.5 million secured by Rep. John Sarbanes and Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen will build a significant portion of the West East Express, which would extend the Poplar Trail and East Coast Greenway in Annapolis, creating critical new traffic-separated corridors for Maryland’s capital and growing the Anne Arundel Trail Network.
In Plainfield, Connecticut, $2.2 million will go toward construction of the Wauregan and Central Village Connector segment of the Quinebaug River Trail. Rep. Joe Courtney informed Town Planner Mary Ann Chinatti of the funding in late 2022.
“People that (sic) use these kinds of trails – residents or those outside the area – tend to stop at a local business or a restaurant and that spurs economic development,” Chinatti told The Norwich Bulletin.
Other East Coast Greenway projects receiving earmarked funding include:
- $1.9 million for the Card Sound Bridge in Monroe County, Florida
- $1.1 million for trail design and rights of way in Bloomfield, Connecticut
- $1 million for the Sadler’s Poynt Park Trail in Camden, New Jersey
- $1 million for the Delaware River Trail – Battery Segment in Philadelphia
- $979,000 for the Lewiston Canal & Riverwalk, Lewiston, Maine
- $750,000 for the Virginia Beach Trail in Virginia Beach, Virginia
Last year marked the first time in more than a decade that members of Congress were able to directly fund projects in their districts through what are commonly referred to as earmarks.
Across 2022 and 2023, more than $32 million was awarded to East Coast Greenway and trail-adjacent projects in this manner.
With the general deadlines for earmarks approaching March 31 for the House and April 6 for the Senate, the Alliance team is working diligently with local partners to submit earmark requests that could be funded in 2024.
“We are so grateful to our representatives and senators who are going to bat to secure funding for the East Coast Greenway, a foundational infrastructure project that provides health, economic, transportation and recreational benefits in their districts and 450 communities from Maine to Florida,” Burson concluded.
Photo of Delaware River Trail, Philadelphia courtesy of the East Coast Greenway Alliance.