Driven by a supportive governor and a forward-thinking state department of transportation that is conscious of the role of biking and walking in modern planning, Connecticut has done some great things in recent years to connect, and expand, its network of trails.
A key state in the plan to connect the burgeoning 3,000-mile-long East Coast Greenway from Maine to Florida, since 2011 Connecticut has built important sections that were once obstinate gaps in the system -- along the Charter Oak Trail through East Hartford and Manchester (right), and over Route 316 along the Hop River State Park Rail-Trail in Andover (below).
Both events gave local trails planners great hope that Connecticut would be able to shake its tag as "home of the trail gaps." And the hits keep coming.
Writing in the Hartford Courant, Peter Marteka reported this week that the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) is supporting an $11.4 million plan to bring the Charter Oak Trail from its present terminus in the Highland Park section of Manchester out to Bolton Notch State Park and to the Hop River Trail in Bolton, perhaps with a fall 2014 start date.
Marteka quoted CDOT Principal Engineer Will Britnell as saying "It's a very popular trail now. You see a lot of people out, especially on weekends. And it's not only bicyclists, it is everyone of all ages. It is going to create a lot of connections out into eastern Connecticut. And it's going to get people there safely."
Says Marteka - "It will be held up as a shining example of what can happen when state agencies, trail enthusiasts and towns along the trail work together to fill the gaps."
Public information hearings on the project will be held at 6:30 p.m., Jan. 22 at the Lincoln Center Directors Room, 494 Main St., and Jan. 23 at 6:30 p.m. at Bolton Town Hall, 222 Bolton Center Rd. The Town of Manchester website has a detailed map of the project section.