Coastal Trails Coalition, Inc. (CTC) is a non-profit corporation whose mission is to assist in developing the Coastal Trails Network, a 30-mile network of rail trails, shared-use paths and bike lanes connecting the communities of Amesbury, Newbury, Newburyport and Salisbury. Formed in 2004 with the support of the Essex National Heritage Commission, the National Park Service Rivers and Trails Program, and the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, CTC continues to be a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) all-volunteer organization. Donations to CTC are tax deductible as charitable donations. CTC invests 100% of donations, grants and membership contributions in the trail network.
Local residents and visitors of all ages use the network to get to work and school, to trains and buses, and for exercise, dog-walking, family exploration and physical rehabilitation. The trails have become an integral part of peoples’ lives and neighborhoods. The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented use to the trails as people sought safety and relief and recreation outdoors. In addition as the network has expanded and become interconnected, more locations have become easily accessible from the trails, attracting even more users. CTC will continue to work with our State Senators and Representatives, the four local communities, and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to complete the trail network.
In 2022 CTC Helped Several Important Trail-building Projects Move Forwar
- CTC contributed $20,000 in matching funds to help Amesbury secure a MassTrails grant to design, engineer and permit the Carriagetown Connector, a shared use path connecting Amesbury’s Riverwalk to Elm Street and the Ghost Trail.
- CTC contributed $17,500 in matching funds to help Salisbury secure a MassTrails grant to resurface the Ghost Trail and to design and construct a new shared use path connecting Salisbury’s Senior Center to Lion’s Park and the Old Eastern Marsh Trail.
- CTC contributed $15,000 in matching funds to help Newbury secure a MassTrails grant to construct a section of a new shared use path along Parker Street that will close a critical gap in the Clipper City Rail Trail.
- CTC also designed and installed new Share the Trail signs in Amesbury and Salisbury to help the increasing numbers of users share and use the trails safely and courteously.
Special Thanks to MassDOT and the MVMPO
MassDOT took responsibility for designing and constructing the Salisbury Rail Trail Connector under the Gillis Bridge, the I-95 Whittier Bridge shared-use path and the Amesbury-Salisbury Trail Connector. MassDOT also covered a significant shortfall in design funding for the Border to Boston Trail (B2B Trail) project, including the extension of Salisbury’s Old Eastern Marsh Trail and 7.2 miles of rail trails in Byfield, Georgetown and Boxford.
The MVMPO is a committee that allocates federal and state funds to highway, bridge, transit and trail projects in the Merrimack Valley region under its Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). It is comprised of representatives of the State Secretary of Transportation, the Executive Directors of the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission and the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority as well as representatives of certain Merrimack Valley cities and towns. Over the years the MVMPO has provided construction funding for the Clipper City Rail Trail in Newburyport, Salisbury’s Old Eastern Marsh Trail and Amesbury’s Riverwalk. Its current TIP includes funding to build the B2B Trail from Byfield to Boxford and the Carriagetown Connector in Amesbury.
Status of Remaining Missing Network Links
Clipper City Rail Trail Phase III
The extension of the Clipper City Rail Trail to Parker Street in Newbury highlighted the need to make a safe connection from the Parker Street trailhead to the southern end of the original Clipper City Rail Trail (and the MBTA commuter rail station). People walking or biking between the two have been required to travel in the street or on narrow dirt shoulders and to make dangerous crossings at State Street and US Route 1.
The City of Newburyport designated this connection as Clipper City Rail Trail Phase III and secured MassDOT Complete Streets Program funding to install a pedestrian-activated signalized crossing of State Street and construct an off-road shared use pathway along Parker Street from State Street to the entrance of Shephard’s Auto. This part of the project was completed in 2021.
CTC made a $10,000 grant to the Town of Newbury and helped raise other funds to design, engineer and permit the segment of the Parker Street shared use path between the Newburyport/Newbury town line and the Clipper City Rail Trail trailhead. During 2022 the design was completed and the Town of Newbury secured a MassTrails grant to construct the project with the help of an additional $15,000 grant from CTC. The Newbury segment will be completed in early 2023.
In addition, as part of a residential development project on Parker Street, Ed Hill, the developer, committed to extend the Parker Street shared use path from Shephard’s Auto to the Newburyport/Newbury town line. Part of this segment of the project was completed in 2022 and the rest will be built in 2023.
MassDOT has initiated a project to rebuild the US Route 1 Rotary in Newburyport that will include a new shared use pathway alongside the Rotary and a signalized pedestrian crossing of Route 1. This will complete the connection of the Parker Street shared use pathway to the original Clipper City Rail Trail and the MBTA commuter rail station. We are expecting this project to be completed in 2024.
CTC is working with officials from the City of Amesbury on developing the Carriagetown Connector to link Amesbury’s Riverwalk to Elm Street and the Ghost Trail. This will be the final trail connection between Amesbury and the rest of the Coastal Trails Network. During 2020 CTC gave Amesbury a $15,000 grant to hire engineers to prepare the plans and cost estimates needed to qualify the project for federal and state highway construction funding. During 2022 CTC made an additional $20,000 grant to Amesbury to provide matching funds for a MassTrails grant to support designing, engineering and permitting the project. The design is underway and the MVMPO has programmed $2,448,000 in its TIP to construct the project in 2027.
Border-to-Boston (B2B) Trail: Byfield to Boxford Section in Design; Construction Funding Programmed for 2.2-mile Georgetown-Boxford Trail and 3.2-mile Byfield-Georgetown Trail
Salisbury’s 2.3-mile segment of the B2B Trail was completed in 2021. Work is continuing on designing the section of the B2B Trail from Newburyport and Newbury to Boxford. The design will include: an on-road link from the MBTA commuter rail station in Newburyport to Byfield in Newbury; and a new 7.2-mile rail trail from Byfield through Georgetown and Boxford to Topsfield that will be constructed in three segments.
Funding for B2B Trail design originally included $718,000 of federal highway funds, supplemented by $343,000 of state highway funds and $192,000 of local matching funds from Salisbury, Newbury, Georgetown and Boxford. CTC contributed $5,000 toward Salisbury’s $59,000 match and $6,000 toward Newbury’s $12,000 match. CTC also raised $44,000 of additional funds for Salisbury’s match from Newburyport Bank, Institution for Savings Charitable Foundation, TD Bank Foundation, SPS New England and CTC Board members to support design of the trail in Salisbury. During 2017 the projected cost of the design was reevaluated and a shortfall of $1.5 million was identified. Recognizing the long-term value of the project, MassDOT agreed to cover the shortfall and work on the design continued. During 2022 U.S. Congressman Seth Moulton and the Essex National Heritage Commission obtained a Federal earmark for additional B2B design funding that should be sufficient to get the remainder of the project ready for construction.
The MVMPO has programmed $3.7 million to construct the 2.2-mile segment of the B2B Trail from Georgetown Center into Boxford in Federal Fiscal Year 2024 and $6.8 million to construct the 3.2-mile segment from Byfield to Georgetown Center in Federal Fiscal Year 2026. Design of a 1.8-mile segment in Boxford is also underway, but construction funding has not yet been programmed for it. When completed, all of these trails will become part of the East Coast Greenway.
CTC Administers Adopt-a-Trail and Adopt-a-Bench Programs
With CTC’s leadership both Salisbury and Amesbury have implemented Adopt-a-Trail programs. The two towns’ rail trails now have mileposts every 1/10th mile along a total of over six miles of trails. Each post has a sign showing its location and most include a local sponsor’s name and logo. The sponsoring businesses make annual contributions to CTC toward maintaining and improving the trails. The mileposts allow trail users who need emergency help to give their exact location when they call 911. People feel safer and first responders can get to the scene quickly when help is needed.
CTC and the Town of Salisbury have also implemented an Adopt-a-Bench program that raises funds to install benches and other improvements on Salisbury’s trails.
CTC Trail Maintenance
CTC continues to sponsor and organize spring and fall trail cleanups and to recruit volunteers to help maintain and improve the Coastal Trails. This includes regular summertime mowing and trimming and fall leaf clearing as well as snow removal on parts of the Marsh Trail and the Garrison Trail. CTC’s maintenance also includes occasional tasks like removing dangerous trees, clearing fallen trees and branches, repairing fences, replacing vandalized and deteriorated signs, graffiti removal and brush clearing.
CTC Provides Funds to Support Trail Development and Improvement
CTC uses its funds to assist in developing and improving our trails. During 2022 CTC made the following major expenditures.
- CTC granted $15,000 to the Town of Newbury to pay part of the cost of constructing the Newbury section of the Parker Street shared use pathway.
- CTC granted $20,000 to the City of Amesbury to provide part of the matching funds needed for a MassTrails grant to design, engineer and permit the Carriagetown Connector project so it would be ready for construction.
- CTC granted $12,500 of general funds and $5,000 of Salisbury Adopt-a-Trail funds to the Town of Salisbury to provide the matching funds needed to secure a MassTrails grant to construct a new shared use path connecting the Old Eastern Marsh Trail, the Ghost Trail and Lion’s Park to the Town’s Hilton Senior Center and the municipal parking lot on Lafayette Road (US Route 1). The grant will also pay for repairs and restoration of the stone dust surface of the Ghost Trail.
- CTC spent over $4,800 of Salisbury and Amesbury Adopt-a-Trail funds to maintain and improve the trails. Improvements included installing Share the Trail signs on the Marsh Trail and the Riverwalk Trail providing guidelines for safe and courteous trail use and installing wayfinding signs to help trail users travel between the Ghost Trail and the Riverwalk Trail.
- CTC also used Adopt-a-Trail funds to replace a number of signs that had been vandalized or that had deteriorated with age, to purchase materials for fence and equipment repairs, to purchase spring flowering bulbs to be planted along the trails by volunteers, and to pay a contractor for snow removal.