Monday, February 28, 2011

Channel 6 Rails to Trails Feb 28

It really is too bad that the folks who want to enjoy redreational and nature hikes in Maine can't seem to locate a place other than establsihed railway transportation corridors. You would think, in this big open state there would be a couple of other options. Now, the nature trails folks are so desparate for this easy, straight and level route to recreate on, they sold their souls to the biggest carbon emmision ters of the woods - Snow mobiles.
Background: The Sebago to the Sea Coaltion is asking the Governor to stop spending the Bond money Maine voters passed for rail, until they can find a way to make the rail into a trail. My thoughts, as shared with the Channel 6 folks:
Regarding the Caroline Cornish Story

Interesting that 2 of the news stories prior to the one about the rails to trials were about the costs related to maintaining roads during storms and also about the budget crisis we face across the state. If I was to keep watching I'm sure national news would cover the mid-east and the fast rising price of gasoline. So we now have the recreational trails people trying to delay, or prevent the investments into a real alternative to car. The rails to trails people found an easy path for them to hike in the woods even if it is a paved road, straight level and no scenery except an old rail line. Here we have a state with more open space than any in New England and in many of the nation, yet the recreational trails people are determined to
make their nature walks on this corridor.

Fact is, it is train time. The people of maine voted for this investment,and the trails people have known since the first day that the purchase of this corridor was for rail. Interim use is not permanent trails.

Then there is the fact that this PAVED trail will need to not only be paid for with tax dollars, when the roads and bridges are facing a $700 million dollar shortfall - but each town will be responsible for maintaining these lines - paved trails for snowmobilers paid for with local property tax dollars. The 8 ,mile paved trail built already cost $1 million. Problem is one department in MDOT is funding trails ( Dan Stewart) and another funding rails (Nate Moulton) and the roads guys are dominating the discussion so no one is paying attention.

The Maine rail Transit Coalition has attended every Sebago to The Sea meeting and we have made it clear that the trails are undermining the rails,that the trails will need to be moved, as per state law, and that there are many other options for biking (roads) and hiking in this region. The railroads across the country have been lost to trails and maine has had a preservation program in place for almost 20 years to eventually restore rail. now that we have an opportunity to leverage federal funding, which is supporting rail investments across the country, and with the global threats off crushing costs related to road based transportation, now is not the time to allow the trails to take over these critical economic assets for recreational uses that have questionable, if not limited benefits and in fact with snowmobilers use may have in fact additional costs to local property tax burdens.

Train Time

Tony Donovan, Pres.
Maine Rail Transit Coalition
Portland Maine

"Build Trains not Lanes"