Support the Trail at the January 25th Council meeting!

Happy new year! 2023 is shaping up to be an important one for the Merrymeeting Trail.

Last November 30th, the first meeting of the Lower Road Rail Corridor Use Advisory Council (RUAC) was held. It was a great kickoff for this nine-month process, and the vast majority of council members representing communities along the corridor expressed support for using it as a trail on an interim basis. The coming months will include a lot of data gathering and discussion ahead of a recommendation from the Council to the Maine Department of Transportation (DOT).

The second Council meeting for the RUAC is next Wednesday, January 25, at 10:30am via Zoom. These meetings are all open to the public, and a link to participate will be posted on this Maine DOT webpage as soon as it is available. Each meeting includes a public comment section, so please feel free to attend and take that opportunity to share your support for the Merrymeeting Trail!

If you can’t attend but would still like to voice your support, feel free to submit a written comment via this form. Comments can be brief, but making them personal — how you’d use the Merrymeeting Trail, and the benefits you believe it would bring to our communities — will help make them compelling to Council members and Maine DOT.

Thank you for your support, and stay tuned for more as the process continues!

Next Steps on the Merrymeeting Trail Process!

A new stage in the effort to create the Merrymeeting Trail is about to get underway!

In accordance with state statute and in response to a request from the Merrymeeting Trail Board of Supervisors, Maine DOT is convening a Rail Corridor Use Advisory Council charged with collecting and considering data on the long-unused Lower Road rail corridor between Brunswick and Augusta. After nine months of meetings, the Council will make a recommendation to Maine DOT Commissioner Bruce Van Note as to whether the proposed Merrymeeting Trail section of the corridor (Topsham to Gardiner) should be used as a trail on an interim basis (a “trail until rail”).

The first meeting of the Council is set for Wednesday, November 30, at 10:30am to noon. It will be held via Zoom and is open to the public. Here is the info to participate:

https://vhb.zoom.us/j/82330520269?pwd=Mjd4ajdNU0VSc296MG1wOU1lU1B1UT09

Meeting ID: 823 3052 0269

Passcode: 936508

+1 309 205 3325 US

The final 15 minutes of the agenda for this meeting is reserved for “Public Comment.” If you are available, please consider tuning in and using that time to briefly say hello and share that you support the Merrymeeting Trail. Some vocal support at this first meeting could help demonstrate how much interest there is for the trail in our communities!

This is a very exciting development and an important step forward for this project. Following the meeting, the Merrymeeting Trailblazers will be convening to discuss how best to share and promote the trail and support the work of the Council. That meeting is via Zoom at 4pm on November 30. If you’d like join and learn about getting more involved, please email merrymeetingtrail@gmail.com.

Please stay tuned for more as this process gets moving. Thank you and happy trails!

2022 Celebrate Bowdoinham Bike Ride!

Nothing says late summer quite like biking through farmland and exploring trails. Join us on Saturday, September 10, 2022 at 1:00 pm at Celebrate Bowdoinham for a guided bike tour along the future Merrymeeting Trail!

Our guided bike tour will start at 1:00 pm at the Phillip Mailly Waterfront Park in Bowdoinham. We’ll proceed through some of the richest farmland in the state along the shores of Merrymeeting Bay. The midpoint will pass by historic houses in Richmond and turn around at Fort Richmond Waterfront Park. We will stop frequently and enjoy a leisurely pace. Total distance is 18 miles, with a turn back option for a 10 mile route.

Here’s the route. We will provide water, snacks, and maps to bring on your ride. We hope to see you there! 

Happy trails,
The Merrymeeting Trailblazers

An Update on the Trail Process

Hello Trailblazers!

This is an exciting time for the Merrymeeting Trail project. Last month, the Merrymeeting Trail Board of Supervisors — which has two members each from Topsham, Bowdoinham, Richmond, and Gardiner — formally submitted a request to the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) to consider using the Lower Road rail corridor as a trail. The request included similar letters from each of the four municipalities, as well as from the Board of Supervisors for the Kennebec River Rail Trail (with members representing Gardiner, Farmingdale, Hallowell, and Augusta).

Shortly after filing the request, we heard from MDOT Commissioner Bruce Van Note that the department would soon create a Rail Corridor Use Advisory Council to consider our request. This is a new process which will bring together local community leaders, rail and trail advocates, and representatives from state agencies to think about the future of this rail corridor. It will also include a “public advisory process” where members of the public can make their preferences heard.

After nine months, the Council will make a recommendation to the Commissioner about the future use of the corridor. If the recommendation is for trail use, the Commissioner may then bring that recommendation to the Legislature’s Transportation Committee. If the project moves forward, any trail use of the corridor will be considered “interim” in nature — if rail service ever needs to come back along the Lower Road, it can always do so (but hopefully until that time, our communities can make use of this languishing public asset!).

This is a big step forward for Merrymeeting Trail, and we wanted to let you know! We’ll share more as this process advances, including how you can get involved and show your support for the Merrymeeting Trail. In the meantime, consider sharing this update with interested friends and neighbors, and encourage them to sign up for our email list!

Happy trails,

The Merrymeeting Trailblazers

Bike the Merrymeeting Trail at Celebrate Bowdoinham!

Nothing says late summer quite like biking through farmland and exploring trails. Join us on Saturday, September 11, 2021 at 1:00 pm at Celebrate Bowdoinham for a guided bike tour along the future Merrymeeting Trail!

Our guided bike tour will start at 1:00 pm at the Phillip Mailly Waterfront Park in Bowdoinham. We’ll proceed through some of the richest farmland in the state along the shores of Merrymeeting Bay. The midpoint will pass by historic houses in Richmond and turn around at Fort Richmond Waterfront Park. We will stop frequently and enjoy a leisurely pace. Total distance is 18 miles, with a turn back option for a 10 mile route.

Here’s the route. If you’re interested in joining us, please register here. We will provide water, snacks, and maps to bring on your ride. We hope to see you there! 

Happy trails,
The Merrymeeting Trailblazers