CTC 2013 Progress Report
Coastal Trails Coalition, Inc. (CTC) is a non-profit corporation whose mission is to assist in developing the Coastal Trails Network, an almost 30-mile network of rail trails and bikeways 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) organization with no paid employees. Donations to CTC are tax deductible as charitable donations. CTC invests 100% of donations, grants and membership contributions in the trail network.
With CTC’s assistance and the continuing support of Congressman John Tierney, State Representative Mike Costello, State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), the four local communities continue to make major progress in building the trail network.
Salisbury Rail Trail Connector and Mural Project Completed;
First Salisbury Art Stroll
To supply a missing link in the trail network and solve a major safety problem, MassDOT completed a new trail connection between the south end of Salisbury’s Old Eastern Marsh Trail and the east side of the Gillis Bridge. Now walkers and bicyclists can travel safely from Ring’s Island and Newburyport to the Marsh Trail without crossing busy US Route 1. The new trail, built with $1.3 million of federal and state highway funds, features a picnic and sitting area offering beautiful views of the Merrimack River. It could not have been built without generous donations of land by two trail neighbors that CTC facilitated.
CTC, the Town of Salisbury and the Newburyport Art Association jointly commissioned local artists to create a set of seven beautiful Salisbury-themed mural paintings that were installed along the Gillis Bridge underpass. The paintings were unveiled at Salisbury’s First Annual Art Stroll that featured local artists and artisans who displayed and sold their work along the Old Eastern Marsh Trail. CTC contributed $2,000 to the mural project and Art Stroll. The Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank, the Institution for Savings and the Salisbury, Newburyport, Amesbury and West Newbury Cultural Councils also contributed.
Town Creek Flood Control Project on Old Eastern Marsh Trail Underway
The northern half of the Old Eastern Marsh trail will be closed temporarily until May 2014 while the Town of Salisbury replaces the 19th Century culvert and tide gate at Town Creek. Disastrous floods in 2005 and 2007 washed out the Town Creek rail bed and flooded local businesses and US Route 1. In response, the Town worked with the Massachusetts Wetlands Restoration Program, NOAA and the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a project that will reduce flood risks and help restore the salt marsh.
The Town is using $1.4 million of FEMA and State funding to remove and rebuild a section of the Old Eastern Marsh Trail and install larger culverts and modern tide gates. This will provide better control over future flood events and allow more tidal flow to help restore the marsh. Trail users will be able to enjoy the southern half of the Marsh Trail throughout the project.
Design of Amesbury Riverwalk Extension Near Completion; Federal Fiscal Year 2014 (FFY 2014) Construction Funding Programmed; Progress on Carriagetown Connector
The City of Amesbury is completing designs to extend the Riverwalk 0.2 miles from the Lower Millyard into downtown Amesbury. The Merrimack Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization (MVMPO) has programmed $2.1 million of federal and state highway funds to build the downtown trail extension in FFY 2014.
CTC is working with officials from the City of Amesbury, the Town of Salisbury and MassDOT on developing the Carriagetown Connector, the missing link between Amesbury’s Riverwalk and Salisbury’s Ghost Trail. CTC helped Amesbury secure a recreational trail easement between Carriagetown Plaza and Elm Street and is working on securing a trail easement on the old railroad right of way under I-95. CTC paid for a title search of the railroad right of way and has committed $4,000 for any necessary appraisals.
Design of Newburyport’s Clipper City Rail Trail (Phase II) Underway; FFY 2015 Construction Funding Programmed
The City of Newburyport is working on design and permitting for Phase II of the Clipper City Rail Trail and Harborwalk. This 1.5-mile project will provide an off-road pathway for pedestrians and bicyclists to travel along the Merrimack River shoreline, connecting the City’s downtown and central waterfront with Joppa Park at the seawall. The pathway will continue on the old City Branch rail line through the South End neighborhood and the woodlands south of March’s Hill to Parker Street in Newbury.
The City anticipates installing sculptures and public art along the trail, as in the first phase. The design process is supported primarily by local municipal and Community Preservation Act funding, and will facilitate securing a 99-year lease from National Grid for the remaining portions of the corridor. The MVMPO has programmed $3.2 million of federal and state highway funds to construct the trail in FFY 2015. Additional funding will be required to complete final design and specifications and install enhancements.
MassDOT to Build a Shared Use Path on the new I-95 Whittier Bridge by 2016
MassDOT has begun work on replacing the Whittier Bridge over the Merrimack River as part of its accelerated bridge program. The $300 million project will widen the northern section of I-95 through Newburyport, Amesbury and Salisbury to four lanes in each direction. Leaders of the local communities, CTC and others convinced MassDOT to include a shared use path on the new bridge and alongside I-95. The 1.8-mile shared use path will permit pedestrians and bicyclists to travel across the Merrimack River between Amesbury, Salisbury and Newburyport and to have safe and easy access to key destinations such as Maudslay State Park, the Route 113 Park and Ride Facility, Route 110 and Salisbury’s Ghost Trail. Construction will be completed in 2016. CTC is continuing to advocate for making a stairway connection between the shared use path and Main Street in Amesbury.
Northern Section of Border to Boston Trail Being Designed; FFY 2017 Construction Funding Programmed for 2.3-Mile Salisbury Segment and 5.2-mile Segment from Newburyport to Georgetown Center
Work is underway to design 16 miles of the northern section of the Border to Boston Trail from Boxford to the New Hampshire border. The design will include a new 2.3-mile rail trail linking Salisbury’s Old Eastern Marsh Trail to the Ghost Trail and Seabrook, NH; an on-road link from the MBTA commuter rail station in Newburyport to Byfield in Newbury; and a 7.2-mile rail trail from Byfield, through Georgetown and Boxford, to Topsfield. The design should be completed in 2014 or 2015.
Funding for the design includes $718,000 of federal highway funds, supplemented with $343,000 of state highway funds and $192,000 of local matching funds from the four towns. CTC contributed $5,000 toward Salisbury’s $59,000 match and $3,000 toward Newbury’s $12,000 match. CTC also raised $44,000 of additional funds for Salisbury’s match. Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank, Institution for Savings Charitable Foundation, TD Bank Foundation, SPS New England and CTC Board members all made grants to CTC to support design of the trail in Salisbury. The MVMPO has programmed $3.7 million of federal and state highway funds to construct the new Salisbury segment, as well as $3.6 million to construct the 5.2-mile segment from the MBTA commuter rail station through Byfield to Georgetown Center in FFY 2017.
CTC 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 four miles of trails. Each post has a sign showing its location and a local sponsor’s name and logo. The sponsoring businesses make annual contributions to CTC toward maintaining and improving the trails. The mileposts allow people who need 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 Holds 3rd Annual Slow Bike Race Fundraiser
Young and old alike had fun at CTC’s 3rd Annual Slow Bike Race held during Newburyport’s Yankee Homecoming on July 31. This “How Slow Can You Go?” race featured slow motion “racing” and last minute surprises. It even got a mention in a Wall Street Journal article. The winner was the last “racer” over the finish line who did not touch a foot to the ground. Prizes were awarded for the slowest racer, most fundraising and best costume. Stay tuned for the 4th Annual Slow Bike Race during Yankee Homecoming next year.
CTC Trail Maintenance
CTC Fundraisers at Not Your Average Joe’s, 17 State Street Cafe and Flatbread Company
CTC sponsored fundraisers at Not Your Average Joe’s and 17 State Street Cafe in Newburyport and at Flatbread Company in Amesbury. Lots of people turned out and had a good time eating dinner and meeting and greeting each other. We are very appreciative of these restaurants’ support of CTC and other community groups through their revenue-sharing fundraisers.
CTC Provides Funds to Support Trail Development and Improvement
CTC uses its funds to assist in developing and improving our trails. During 2013 CTC made the following grants, investments and financial commitments:
$10,000 paid toward Salisbury’s matching funds for Border to Boston Trail design from dedicated funds CTC raised from third parties,
$6,600 spent from Salisbury Adopt-a-Trail and Adopt-a-Bench funds to remove trees along the Old Eastern Marsh Trail that posed a safety hazard to trail users, to purchase additional granite benches, to replace interpretive signs and for other trail improvements,
$4,000 committed to search the title to the right of way and to pay for appraisals needed to make a trail connection between Amesbury and Salisbury under I-95,
$2,000 contributed toward creating the mural paintings installed alongside the Gillis Bridge Trail Connector,
$550 spent from Salisbury Adopt-a-Trail funds for fifty Blueberry plants that CTC volunteers planted along the western end of Salisbury’s Ghost Trail to start a public blueberry patch,
$450 donated to the City of Newburyport to support creating a video focused on the Clipper City Rail Trail, and
$200 spent from Amesbury Adopt-a-Trail funds to install new entrance signs on the Riverwalk that feature CTC’s Coastal Trails Network Map.