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Environment and Outdoors

A proposed bicycle trail system could connect Maine's 25 biggest communities by 2030

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Mark Vogelzang
/
Maine Public

The Maine Trails Coalition and seven other groups have outlined a plan to link Maine's 25 largest municipalities with off-road trails. The idea behind these "active transportation arterials" is to make it more likely people will leave cars behind.

The coalition has outlined its plan in a 57-page document. It pegs the cost at $160 million. Kristine Keeney, the Northern New England Manager for the East Coast Greenway Alliance, says the $160 million is a lot of money, but far less than the $240 million the Maine Turnpike is prepared to spend on a six-mile-long highway spur into Gorham.

"One will create more congestion and put more cars on the road," Keeney says. "And ensure that Mainers will continue to be auto-dependent, with no other options to get around.

She says completing their plan for active transportation arterials, "is an investment in affordable, equitable, and accessible transportation for everyone."

Keeney says the work outlined in the report could be completed by 2030, if the state were willing to devote just two-and-a-half percent of its transportation budget to bicycle and pedestrian trails.