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!
The Merrymeeting Trailblazers