Friday, August 28, 2009

Sebago to the Sea? or Portland to North Conway? or both?????

Sebago to the Sea Trail Public Meeting
Wednesday, September 9th, 5:30-7:00 pm
Standish Town Hall, 175 Northeast Road (Rte 35)

The Sebago to the Sea Trail vision is to establish a contiguous trail from Sebago Lake to Casco Bay connecting Standish, Windham, Gorham, Westbrook, Portland and Falmouth. Beginning at Sebago Lake, the Sebago to the Sea Trail will follow primarily the Presumpscot River, ending at Casco Bay. Approximately 18 miles of the envisioned 27.5 miles of trail is already in place, including the 10-foot wide bicycle and pedestrian trail along the Mountain Division Rail Corridor and trails that are part of Portland Trails’ 32-mile network. The Standish end of the trail is envisioned on Portland Water District’s Sebago Lake Land Reserve. Join us at the Public Meeting to learn more and provide your input! As I read this I was thinking you and I might have a conversation to help me understand the role of the Trails coalition referenced below. It is clear that they trails folks will be using the Mountain Division Railroad right of way for the purposes of non-motorized transportation and pedestrian, primarily recreational use.

you think so?
As I read this invitation, it raised the question as to whether a railroad transportation operation, preferably commuter rail, but for now excursion and freight, can co-exist with the trails. I should make that a question. My problem is I am a strong advocate of both methods of transportation, rail transit and bike/ped access. But, I am of the opinion that a railway operation will not be able to reach it's highest economic potential if it is limited by the use for a trail. We need to look to the long-term. Real commuter rail will need to travel more than 60 mph, maybe up to 100. ..................................

I thnk this is an answer that has to be resolved soon. The State of Maine has already turned whole corridors into trails, some still preserved for future rail Calais & the Sunrise Trail), some never again (portland's Uion Branch) , and they have built trails on rails at the Mt. Division, the lower roads to Augusta and on Portland's Eastern Prom. The state says it has a policy about distance, but I have heard that it is not up to national insurance standards for railroad operators.

I just think there has to be a clear understanding about this. There are many miles of Maine that make great trails. We spend a lot of money on roads that can accommodate bike commuters. We have a lot of sidewalks also. But there are limited railway corridors and, in my humble opinion , we need to be perfectly clear as to the limits of their use. The trail policy may be putting at risk the ability to raise the money for higher class rail, if it is been converted to shared use.

One thought I have is to take the question to the Technical Advisory Committee for the State Rail Plan whe itmeets in Sept. A clearly stated, acceptable and undertood policy might be useful.

Would you like to discuss this and other aspects of rail corridor restoration?

I am fairly flexible.

Feel free to share this with others.

Tony D

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