Draft Work Plan 2-27-09

 

Merrymeeting Trail – Guide/Work Plan
Draft – February 27, 2009
 
Vision:
 
Create a regional trail from Topsham through Bowdoinham and Richmond to Gardiner, which connects: the Androscoggin River Pedestrian Bike Path in Topsham, the Village Area in Bowdoinham, the Village Area in Richmond, and the Kennebec River Rail Trail in Gardiner. 
 
Uses:
  • Hiking, biking, mountain biking, horseback riding, snow shoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling
 
Trail System Specifications:
 
Village Centers –          Developed trail: built up, maybe like a sidewalk. Signage from destinations within village areas and to guide travels to rural trail connector.
 
Rural Area –                 Rural trail: maybe some stone, stone dust, gravel, mulch about three feet wide with a six foot wide clearing. Signage for trail connectors/destinations and distance to villages.
 
Benefits:
 
The creation of this trail would connect two existing regional trails, the Androscoggin River Pedestrian Bike Path in Topsham and the Kennebec River Rail Trail in Gardiner, which would serve to connect the cities of Brunswick and Augusta. Connecting with these existing regional trails would also allow the Merrymeeting Regional Trail to serve as an alternate route on the East Coast Greenway, as this trail would connect Segment 18 and Segment 25 of the East Coast Greenway in Maine. The East Coast Greenway is a national trail that connects existing and planned trails, a continuous, safe, green route 3,000 miles long is being formed linking Calais, Maine at the Canadian border with Key West, Florida.
 
Health:

Trails create healthy recreation and transportation opportunities by providing people of all ages with attractive, safe, accessible and low- or no-cost places to cycle, walk, hike, jog or skate. Trails help people of all ages incorporate exercise into their daily routines by connecting them with places they want or need to go. Communities that encourage physical activity by making use of the linear corridors can see a significant effect on public health and wellness.
 
Transportation/Livability:
In addition to providing a safe place for people to enjoy recreational activities, trails often function as viable transportation corridors. Trails can be an important element in regional multi-modal transportation system. Many areas of the country incorporate trails and similar facilities into their transit plans, relying upon trail facilities to "feed" people in to and out of transit stations in a safe and efficient manner. The ability to avoid congested streets and highways, and travel through natural areas on foot or by non-motorized means, is a large factor in a community's "livability."
 
Conservation/Environment:

Trails have all the traditional conservation benefits of preserving greenspace, but also have additional benefits by way of their linear nature. As tools for ecology and conservation, greenways and trails help preserve important natural landscapes, provide needed links between fragmented habitats, and offer tremendous opportunities for protecting plant and animal species. They also can be useful tools for wetland preservation and improvement of air and water quality.
 
Economy/Revitalization:

The economic effects of trails are sometimes readily apparent (as in the case of trailside businesses), and are sometimes more subtle, like when a company decides to move to a particular community because of amenities like trails. There is no question, however, that countless communities across America have experienced an economic revitalization due in whole or in part to trails.
 
Historic Preservation/Community Identity

 

Many community leaders have been surprised at how trails have become sources of community identity and pride. These effects are magnified when communities use trails to highlight and provide access to historic and cultural resources. Many trails and greenways themselves preserve historically significant transportation corridors.
 
Preferred Trail Route:
 
Railroad Corridor- Rail-with-Trail –     
 
Positives:
§         We would just need the permission of one landowner, MDOT.
§         Ideal location for trail as the railroad corridor runs along the Cathance River, the Abagadasset River and the Kennebec River.
§         The railroad corridor goes through the Bowdoinham, Richmond, and Gardiner village centers and would connect to the Kennebec River Rail trail.
§         This would be a fairly direct route that would meet all of our goals in terms of the areas we want to connect.
§         We could veer off the MDOT right-of-way where the construction cost would be too great.
o       The River Road is in vicinity of the railroad corridor.
o       We may need to work with property owners for permission and easements where the trail would veer out of the right-of-way.
 
Negatives
§         This could be a challenging corridor in terms of engineering and potential costs of construction.
 
 
Process:
§         What do we need to do to get MDOT’s permission?
§         Engineering for Trail Bed including bridges
o       Could we get some engineering services donated?
§         Environmental Permitting
§         Construction Costs
§         Construction
                                   
Other Trail Route Options:
 
Railroad Corridor- Rail-to-Trail –        
 
            Positives:
§         Ideal location for trail as the railroad corridor runs along the Cathance River, the Abagadasset River and the Kennebec River.
§         The railroad corridor goes through the Bowdoinham, Richmond, and Gardiner village centers and would connect to the Kennebec River Rail trail.
§         The trail could use the railroad bed.
§         This would be a fairly direct route that would meet all of our goals in terms of the areas we want to connect.
§         Construction would be inexpensive.
 
Negatives
§         MDOT would have to make a request to the legislature to have the rail removed. 
o       In preliminary discussions, MDOT has stated that rail removal is not an option for this corridor.
§         An economic study would have to be done. 
o       The study could be costly and the outcome of the study is unknown.
§         The railroad line is considered an active line and is currently being looked at for freight service and for possible passenger service in the future.
§         The railroad line was preserved for the Kennebec River Rail Trail.
§         There are A LOT of people that want and are working for this rail-line to be active with trains.
§         If the rail was removed, then the life of the trail may be short lived, because MDOT would be able to put the rail back at anytime.
§         Politics
 
Process:
§         What do we need to do to get MDOT’s permission?
 
NET&T Easement –     Trail could use the old NET&T Easement.
 
Positives:
§         If the easement is existing and the trail use could be considered under the existing easement, then we would not have to negotiate with property owners
 
Negatives
§         Do not know the status of the easement.
o       Is the easement existing, and if so where?
o       Can a trail use be included in the easement?
o       Would property owners allow use?
o       Would easement holder allow use?
§         The Easement does not connect the village centers?
§         The Easement does not connect to the Androscoggin River Trail or the Kennebec River Rail Trail.
§         The easement has been given back in some areas.
§         The easement is not in all property deeds.
§         The located of the easement on some properties (i.e. close personal buildings).
 
Process:
§         Research the status of the easement & determine what we need to do to use this corridor.
§         Engineering for Trail Bed including bridges
o       Could we get some engineering services donated?
§         Environmental Permitting
§         Construction Costs
§         Construction
 
Existing Trails / New Corridor –   We could piece together existing trails and/or create a new corridor.
 
Negatives:
§         There is no defined corridor and defining a corridor would be a long process.
§         We need to do a planning study to determine areas to look at and property owners to contact.
§         We would have to negotiate with a lot of property owners.
§         We could have to obtain permission & easements from property owners.
 
Process:
§         Determine possible corridors.
§         Negotiate with landowners.
§         Engineering for Trail Bed including bridges
o       Could we get some engineering services donated?
§         Environmental Permitting
§         Construction Costs
§         Construction
 
Organization Structure:
 
Options:
 
Memorandum of Agreement – Alliance, Coalition
 
Intragovernment Agreement - Example: Kennebec River Rail Trail
 
Regional Organization - Alliance, Coalition
 
District - Example: Eastern Trail Management District
 
Legislative Form - Example: Saco River Corridor Commission
 
To Do:
 
Need To Research Options 
  • What are the positives and negatives of each?
  • What are our municipal governmental bodies (Council, Selectmen, legislative body) willing to sign on to?
  • How do we create the organization structure? What do we have to do?
 
Maintenance Plan:
 
This is something we need to think about and work on. Possible something to get NPS assistance for.
 
Engineering/Permitting/Construction Plan:
 
XXX
 
Stakeholders/Interested Parties:
 
Contacted:
 
Kennebec Estuary Collaboration & Lower Kennebec River Land Trust
  • Carrie Kinne their Executive Director will be working on this project.
 
Need to Contact:
 
Snowmobile Clubs-
 
Resources:
 
College/University
  • Does anyone have any college/university contacts??? Any ideas for aspects of the project they could assist with?
  • Could assist with mapping, studies, on the ground help and money.
 
National Park Service –
  • Provide project assistance.
  • They may be willing to answer some questions for us now.
  • We will apply for their River, Trails, Conservation Assistance Program in 2009.
 
Trust for Public Land –
  • ???
  • Need to contact
 
Healthy Maine Partnerships –
  • Amanda Hopkins
  • Need to contact
 
Maine Conservation Corps
  • Assist with trail construction.
  • We would have to contact the Department of Conservation at least one if not two years in advance to schedule their assistances.
 
Inmates
  • Assist with trail construction. Other duties?
  • How would we schedule this?
 
Department of Conservation
  • Dave Rocque
  • Need to contact
 
Department of Transportation
  • Dan Stewart / Chris Mann
  • A meeting has been scheduled with Dan Stewart, Town Staff, Carrie Kinne & Katrina Van Dusen to discuss this project.
 
 
Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA)
  • ???
  • Need to contact
 
Highlands
  • John Wasileski
  • Need to contact
 
East Coast Greenway
  • Sue Ellen Bordwell, Southern Maine East Coast Greenway Alliance State Committee Chair
  • Tony Barrett, Trustee for the Maine East Coast Greenway Alliance
  • Dave Wood, Maine East Coast Greenway
  • Sue Ellen Bordwell & Dave Wood will be representing the East Coast Greenway and will contribute to this project where possible.
  • Could the Merrymeeting Regional Trail be listed as an alternate route for the East Coast Greenway so that we could be included as part of the East Coast Greenway project instead of a separate project? If so, what would be the process?
 
LL Bean
  • ???
  • Need to contact
 
Bike Organizations
  • ???
  • Need to contact
 
Rotary Club
  • ???
  • Need to contact
 
Maine Recreation & Parks Association (MRPA)
  • Doug Beck, Executive Director
  • Need to contact
 
Bath Cycle & Ski
  • Davis Carver
  • Need to contact
 
Existing Studies –
  • Fermata, “Maine Nature Tourism Initiative, 2005
  • Flanagan Report, “Economic Development Strategy for Washington County, 2005
  • Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center,UM, “Economic Contributions of ATV’s,”2005
  • SYSTRA , “Mass Transit Possibilities Bangor to Bar Harbor,” 2004
 
  • Rizzo Associates, “Downeast Trail Study,” 2000
  • Stafford Business Advisors, “Transload Facility,” 2000
  • Wilbur-Smith Associates, “Bicycle Tourism in Maine,” 2001
  •  Stafford Business Advisors, “EconomicPotential for Revival of the Calais Branch Railroad,” 1998
  • Stafford Business Advisors, “Market Reviews, Eastport Rail Study,” 1997
  • Stephen Reiling, Dept. of Resource Economic and Policy, UM, “Total Impact of Snowmobiling,” 1997-98
  • There have been many studies conducted for trail projects across this country. We should try to obtain copies of some of these studies for reference.
 
Next Steps:
 
Planning:
 
  1. This winter look at railroad corridor using aerial photography and available GIS data to identify areas where a trail next to the rail may be difficult. Then this spring/fall find out about traveling the corridor to look for areas where a trail next to the rail may be difficult. 
  2. Outline the various scopes of work we may need for studies (i.e. goals, information wanted from the study, information to be included in the study, etc.). Tom Reeves, Rod Melanson, & Katrina Vas Dusen agreed to work on this and have something for the next meeting.
  3. Obtain copies to the railway corridor from MDOT. Bowdoinham has for Bowdoinham. Town Staff should contact MDOT for the plans for their municipality.
 
Information Gathering:
 
Meeting with John Andrews, Eastern Trail Management District – ???
Meeting with Rail-Trail Conservancy - ???
Representatives from other Trail projects - ???
 
Funding:
 
Grants?
Economic Stimulus?
Funding through the base closure?
Other Ideas???
 
Stakeholders:
 
Who are they???
Volunteers to make contacts???
 
Resources:
 
Ideas?
Information to add?
Volunteers to obtain existing studies (and look for new ones)?