WHERE THERE’S RAIL, THERE’S USUALLY ROOM FOR A TRAIL

… and that’s absolutely the case on the 5.8-mile stretch along the railroad tracks from Downtown Westbrook to Commercial Street in Portland. The corridor was the subject of a recent feasibility study on how a pedestrian trail for walking, jogging, biking and more could be created, most likely as part of a comprehensive project also involving commuter rail service.

Rolling the trail into the planning and design process for the rail rehabilitation project would be an affordable and efficient way to get the engineering and planning done, and put everything in place for Maine to procure federal funding for the trail.

When complete, the rail and trail would represent two healthy and sustainable ways for Southern Maine residents to commute. And the trail, which would connect to over 70 miles of additional trails in the area, would give area residents an upgraded landscape for their active lifestyles.

THE RAIL-WITH-TRAIL ROUTE

A paved pedestrian trail could feasibly be constructed within the railway right-of-way for the majority of the the Portland West Railway route. This system would connect to over 70 miles of existing trails, including the Sebago to the Sea trail, which also utilizes easements on the Mountain Division railway line. Adding the PWR leg would give the trail a more direct route to the ocean and the option of completing a scenic loop around Portland’s peninsula and along the Presumpscot River.

NEWS + RESOURCES

Rails-with-Trails: Lessons Learned (US DOT, 2002)

Rails-with-Trails: Lessons Learned (US DOT, 2002)

Prepared by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2002, near the beginning of the Rail-with-Trail movement, this comprehensive report provides information and recommendations on the feasibility, potential benefits, legislation, liability, planning, designing, operation, and maintenance of rails-with-trails, and has been a helpful go-to guide for trail planners over the past decade and a half.

America’s Rails-with-Trails Report (Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, 2013)

America’s Rails-with-Trails Report (Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, 2013)

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) produced this report to provide updated information on national rail-with-trail trends. It provides a collection of data, examples and practical tools to assist trail planners and advocates in increasing awareness of the rail-with-trail concept, and advancing local and state policies and practices that support rail-with-trail development.