Coastal Trails Coalition, Inc.
2017 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, 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.
Major progress has been made on developing the network and 14 miles already have been completed. 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 rehabilitation. The trails have become an integral part of peoples’ lives and neighborhoods. We expect the 1.8-mile Whittier Bridge Shared-Use Path and the 2.1-mile Clipper City Rail Trail Phase II to be completed during the summer of 2018. CTC will continue to work with our State Senators Kathleen O’Connor Ives and Bruce Tarr, our State Representatives Jim Kelcourse and Lenny Mirra, the four local communities, and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to complete the trail network.
Special Thanks to MassDOT and MVMPO
We would like to express our heartfelt appreciation for the vital and constructive role that MassDOT’s Highway Division and the Merrimack Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization (MVMPO) continue to play in developing the Coastal Trails Network.
In recent years MassDOT undertook responsibility for designing and constructing the Salisbury Rail Trail Connector under the Gillis Bridge, is constructing a shared-use path as part of the Whittier Bridge replacement project, and funded the design and construction of a stairway to the shared-use path at Main Street in Amesbury and a trail connection between Amesbury and Salisbury under I-95 as well as covering a significant shortfall in design funding for the Border to Boston Trail project.
The MVMPO is a regional committee that allocates Federal and State funds to highway, bridge, transit and trail projects in the region under its Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The MVMPO 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 Marsh Trail and Amesbury’s Riverwalk and its current TIP includes funding for additional Coastal Trails Network projects in Salisbury, Amesbury and Newbury.
Construction of Phase II of the Clipper City Rail Trail Nearing Completion
Construction of Phase II of the Clipper City Rail Trail and Harborwalk commenced in 2016 and is expected to be completed during the summer of 2018. This 2.1-mile project will provide an off-road pathway for pedestrians and bicyclists to travel along the Merrimack River shoreline between the City’s downtown and central waterfront and the seawall at Joppa Park. The pathway will continue on the old City Branch rail line through the South End neighborhood and the woodlands south of March’s Hill Park to Parker Street in Newbury. The City anticipates installing sculptures and public art along the trail.
The MVMPO committed $4.4 million of federal and state highway funds to construct the trail. During 2017 the City of Newburyport funded additional work to make a better trail connection to High Street and to clean up contaminated soil along the harbor front that was discovered during construction.
MassDOT to Complete Shared-Use Path on the new I-95 Whittier Bridge in 2018
MassDOT’s project to replace the I-95 Whittier Bridge over the Merrimack River is expected to be completed in the summer of 2018. Two new interstate highway bridges over the river have already been completed and are in use. The final phase in the project will be to complete a shared- use path on the easterly side of the northbound highway bridge.
The 1.8-mile path will accommodate pedestrian and bicycle travel across the Merrimack River between Amesbury, Salisbury and Newburyport. It will extend from the Route 113 Park and Ride in Newburyport to Route 110 in Salisbury and will also provide safe and easy access to Maudslay State Park. Leaders of the local communities and CTC persuaded MassDOT to include the shared-use path as part of the bridge replacement project, the first such path on an interstate highway bridge in Massachusetts. The shared-use path has been named the Garrison Trail in honor of Newburyport’s famous abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison.
CTC organized a committee of local municipal leaders, historians, cultural leaders and naturalists to work with MassDOT to develop entrance signs for the Garrison Trail and a series of interpretive sign panels featuring local history, nature and culture as well as local attractions. The interpretive panels will be installed at scenic overlooks on the new Whittier Bridge and at entrances to the shared-use path.
MassDOT Designing Main Street Stairway to Whittier Bridge Shared-Use Path and Amesbury-Salisbury Trail Connection under I-95
During the planning of the Whittier Bridge replacement project local municipal leaders and CTC successfully advocated for a stairway connection between the Whittier Bridge shared-use path and Amesbury’s historic Chain Bridge filling station on Main Street, as well as for a trail connection under I-95 between Salisbury’s Ghost Trail and Elm Street in Amesbury.
The stairway will provide convenient access to the shared-use path from Amesbury’s Main Street and Point Shore. The trail connection under I-95 will be a major step toward closing one of the last missing links in the Coastal Trails Network, the gap between Amesbury’s Riverwalk and Salisbury’s Ghost Trail, and will provide a safe pedestrian and bicycle route between the two communities.
Neither project was initially included as part of the Whittier Bridge replacement project, so we are extremely pleased that MassDOT recognized the importance of both projects and took responsibility for designing and permitting them. The MVMPO has programmed $2.6 million of federal and state highway funds to construct the stairway and the trail connection in FFY 2018 and the design is nearing completion. MassDOT and the municipalities are working hard on completing the design with the goal of going to bid in the summer of 2018 and commencing construction in 2019.
Progress on Carriagetown Connector and Amesbury Riverwalk Extension
CTC is working with officials from the City of Amesbury on developing the Carriagetown Connector, a connection between Amesbury’s Powow Riverwalk and Elm Street in Amesbury that will be the final trail link between Amesbury and Salisbury and the rest of the Coastal Trails Network. Amesbury was awarded $180,000 in a state grant to support design of the Connector, and design is now underway. Our State representatives included $1.8 million to fund construction of this connection in the 2014 State Transportation Bond Bill. CTC helped Amesbury secure a recreational trail easement on the old railroad right of way between Carriagetown Plaza and Elm Street and hopes to assist Amesbury in obtaining additional easements from Carriagetown Plaza and National Grid that will be needed to make the trail connection.
The City of Amesbury and MassDOT will be extending Amesbury’s Riverwalk into the new Heritage Park along the Powow River. The design of the project was completed in 2017 and the project has gone out to bid. MassDOT has obligated $550,000 for the project.
Northern Section of Border to Boston Trail Being Designed; Construction Funding Programmed for 2.3-mile Salisbury Trail Extension, 1.3-mile Georgetown-Boxford Trail and 3.2-mile Byfield-Georgetown Trail
Work is underway to design 16 miles of the northern section of the Border to Boston Trail from Boxford to the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border. The design will include:
- a new 2.3-mile rail trail linking Salisbury’s Eastern Marsh Trail to the Ghost Trail, to Salisbury Elementary School and to Seabrook, NH;
- 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 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 Salisbury, Newbury, Georgetown and Boxford. 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 from Newburyport Five Cents Savings 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 design funding 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 is underway.
The MVMPO has programmed $5.9 million of federal and state highway funds to construct the 2.3-mile Salisbury segment of the Border to Boston Trail in FFY 2018. Design of this segment is nearing completion with an expected bid date of August 2018 and construction commencing in 2019. CTC is working with the Friends of the Seabrook Rail Trail to make a trail connection between the northern end of the Salisbury segment and Route 286 in Seabrook, NH. The proposed trail connection would provide a safe way for users of the Coastal Trails Network to get to Route 286 and to Seabrook Beach and also would give Seabrook residents access to the Coastal Trails Network.
The MVMPO has also programmed $1.9 million to construct a 2.2-mile segment of the Border to Boston Trail from Georgetown Center into Boxford in FFY 2020 and $4.3 million to construct a 3.2-mile segment from Byfield to Georgetown Center in FFY 2021. 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 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 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. The City of Newburyport implemented an Adopt-a-Trail program modeled on CTC’s that is administered by the Newburyport Parks Department.
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. Extra work was needed to clear trees downed during October’s hurricane that blocked the trails.
CTC Sponsors Salisbury’s 5th Annual Art Stroll
The 5th Annual Salisbury Art Stroll on May 13 featured local artists and artisans who displayed and sold their work along the Eastern Marsh Trail as well as local musicians who provided live music throughout the event.
CTC made a grant of $1,500 to provide advance funding for the Art Stroll. The Salisbury Planning Department raised additional funds from local Cultural Councils.
CTC Holds 7th Annual Slow Bike Race Fundraiser
Young and old alike had fun at CTC’s 7th Annual Slow Bike Race held as part of Newburyport’s Yankee Homecoming on August 2. This “How Slow Can You Go?” race featured slow motion “racing” and last minute surprises. 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. The Slow Bike Race gets more and more popular every year. Don’t miss the 8th Annual Slow Bike Race during Yankee Homecoming next year.
CTC Provides Funds to Support Trail Development and Improvement
CTC uses its funds to assist in developing and improving our trails. During 2017 CTC made the following grants and investments:
- $5,000 granted to the City of Newburyport to support installation of murals as part of the Clipper City Rail Trail Phase II project,
- $3,600 granted to the Town of Salisbury for additional design work needed for the Salisbury segment of the Border to Boston Trail,
- $2,000 spent from Salisbury Adopt-a-Trail funds to purchase materials and equipment for trail maintenance, to replace trail entrance signs and interpretive signs, to support installation of a children’s Storywalk on the Marsh Trail, to support a Triton High School project to protect turtle nests along the Marsh Trail and to make other trail improvements, and
- $1,500 granted to the Town of Salisbury to provide funding for the Salisbury Art Stroll.