You wouldn’t expect to see a sign designating Capitol Avenue in Hartford, on the corner of Sisson Avenue, as the route of the East Coast Greenway – but nonetheless, there it is. Affixed to a utility pole, not a tree. The East Coast Greenway (ECG) is being established as a 3,000 mile traffic-free (not quite yet) trail that will connect cities and towns from the Canadian border at Calais, Maine to Key West, Florida. Linking together publicly-owned, firm-surface trails, the ECG is envisioned as a safe route for exercise, recreation and transportation for the 30 million Americans who live near the route and as a tourism destination for millions of visitors. It includes 15 states (and the District of Columbia), 25 major cities, and scores of smaller cities, towns, villages and counties.
The 198-mile Connecticut section of the East Coast Greenway route shows off the diversity of Connecticut from coast to inland, city to country. The eastern part of the state, sometimes referred to as the “last green valley” is the most rural area in the corridor between Boston and Washington, DC. A series of rail trails, including the Air Line Trail North and the Hop River Trail, run through this region connecting historic mill towns like Willimantic and pass through forests and farmlands between.
In the western half of the state, the Greenway connects the major cities of Hartford, New Haven, and Stamford and allows users to experience history while touring the Farmington Canal Greenway from Simsbury to New Haven. Southwest of New Haven along Long Island Sound, the interim on-road route hugs the shore through the suburbs to the New York line.
Approximately 28% of the 198-mile route is complete as traffic-free trail, and another 28% is in development. There remains much work ahead, including the Merritt Parkway Trail, envisioned to parallel the Merritt Parkway in Fairfield County, the Farmington Canal Greenway between Southington and Farmington, and the route from Hartford to Simsbury.
Among the partners working to bring the project to completion in the state of Connecticut are:
- Bike Walk Connecticut
- Connecticut Bicycle Coalition
- Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
- Connecticut Department of Transportation
- Connecticut Explorer’s Guide
- Connecticut Forest & Park Association
- Connecticut Greenway Council
- Farmington Canal Rail-to-Trail Association
- Farmington Valley Trails Council
- Greenwich Safe Cycling
- Merritt Parkway Trail Alliance
- South West Regional Planning Agency
This past August, a group of 37 riders traveled from Portland and rode over 400 miles in seven days to Hartford, where they were greeted by Mayor Pedro Segarra.