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Latest News

Pandemic’s effects leave road project planners guessing what’s around the corner

By Edward D. Murphy | Posted January 25, 2021

Maine’s transportation planners are getting ready to work on construction and maintenance projects for 2021, but with a lot more questions than normal.

How will finances be affected by the coronavirus pandemic? Will traffic on Maine roads rebound as more people get vaccinated? When should the state Department of Transportation and its contractors schedule work to avoid inconveniencing commuters, residents and visitors?

The department has even coined a term for all the uncertainty: “business unusual.”

Maine Transportation Commissioner Bruce Van Note said his department had to be nimble to adjust to changes in 2020. Construction prices were originally so high that much of the work planned for last year was stretched out over two years.

Then, when the pandemic hit and traffic plummeted – often to half its normal level – the department found that it could change construction schedules to save money. Work done during the day is cheaper and usually more efficient, and some projects that were planned for the offseason could be done during warmer weather because the roads weren’t as clogged.

The pandemic even helped put a lid on construction price increases, and a drought allowed the department to stretch the construction season into the fall.

[Content removed from original article for spatial considerations]

Some of the major projects planned for 2021 mean that drivers in southern Maine can expect to see work on two bridges carrying traffic on Interstate 295 over Route 1 in Yarmouth, reconstruction of the Congress Square intersection in Portland, work on the Eastern Trail in Scarborough and improvements to the railroad siding and platform for Amtrak Downeaster rail service in Wells. Those four projects alone will cost more than $54 million.

You can read the entire article on-line here.

Latest News

Eastern Trail Alliance hosts full moon walk

The organization hosts a tour through Scarborough Marsh, providing information about the area and Eastern Trail.


Carole Brush, former Eastern Trail Alliance executive director, leads a group of 15 or so people each month through the Scarborough Marsh portion of the trail. The group is able to see the full moon clearly and learn about the area and trail history. Catherine Bart photo

SCARBOROUGH — Because of the leap year, 2020 had one more full moon than usual, and a group of spectators gathered at Scarborough Marsh on the Eastern Trail to see.

On Dec. 29, the Eastern Trail Alliance staff, led by former Executive Director Carole Brush and joined by Jon Kachmar, the current executive director, hosted the last of 2020’s full moon walk events, where a small group of people walked through the marsh and saw the clear moon.

Brush said that the moon of that evening is commonly referred to as the Cold Moon. She also discussed the history of the trail and provided information about the section of trail through the Scarborough Marsh.

The Eastern Trail Alliance formed in 1998, but the Scarborough Marsh bridge and trail didn’t open until 2004, she said.

Eagle Scouts have often completed projects on the trails, Brush said, and one such project is in the creation of a bench that overlooks the marsh.

You can read the entire article online here.

Bicylce being loaded onto an Amtrak trail
Latest News

Bicycle Access Expanded on Downeaster Trains

From our friends at the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority:

The Amtrak Downeaster has expanded its carry-on bike program and is now accepting bicycles from all Downeaster stations in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Newly installed custom-designed luggage racks that convert to bike racks at the end of each car now make it possible to roll bikes on board from any Downeaster station, then secure and store them on the train.  Previously, bikes had to be stored in a special car, restricting access to only a few stations.  Now, standard full-size bicycles may be carried on from any Downeaster station and stored in the designated racks. Because Bicycles are hung vertically by their back wheels using special bike tire hooks to ensure safety, the front wheel, panniers, and bags must be removed.

Bicycle space is limited to four bikes per train, so advance reservations for bikes is required. A $3 to $8 one-way bicycle fee applies.

NNEPRA has been working to improve bike access on Downeaster trains for years. This project could not have been accomplished without the continued support of the bicycle community and the partnership with Amtrak to modify the current train equipment.

A nice view along the Eastern Trail
Latest News

Eastern Trail Annual Appeal 2020

Dear Friends of the Eastern Trail,

What an incredibly challenging year 2020 has been! We hope you and the people around you are safe and in good health. One thing we know for certain, outdoor pursuits are a vital lifeline for people, and continue to provide a safe and fun outdoor activity when it is needed most. We estimate triple our normal number of trail users since last March—potentially representing 750,000 users! To the individuals, foundations, and business who supported the Trail in 2020—THANK YOU.

We hope you found yourself using the trail in 2020.  Whether biking, running, birdwatching or simply taking a long walk, the Eastern Trail currently offers 23 miles of off-road trail for exercise, exploration and enjoyment.  For 2021, we have leveraged resources with MDOT and municipalities to explore off-road trail expansion in Kennebunk, Wells and North Berwick (Blazing the Trail South project), and for new trail planning and on-road improvements through Biddeford and Saco and across the Saco River (Over the River project). And lots of excitement regarding the Close the Gap project in Scarborough, slated to go out to bid by the summer of 2021.

We welcomed a new executive director of the Eastern Trail, Jon Kachmar, who started in July 2020. Since the Trail is designed to provide easy access for anyone and everyone whether resident or visitor, feel free to let Jon know what is great about the trail, or what could use improvement. We eagerly await your thoughts and ideas to provide the best trail experience possible for everyone.

Your support is critical to the continued success and expansion of the Eastern Trail. Your tax-deductible contributions will support our Over the River and Blazing the Trail South campaigns, and of course provide vital support for our ongoing staffing and operations.

Will you join with us to keep new trail development moving? Would you like to make a lasting gift thorough a bequest to the Eastern Trial, a gift of stock options or other assets? Please contact me or Jon to discuss how we can help stretch your charitable giving.
Please support the trail by mailing your donation, visiting our donation page, or contacting Jon directly at 860-227-0914 or Thank you for your continued support, and hope to see you on the trail!
Bob Hamblen signature
Latest News

Maine Rail-Trail Plan 2020-2030

A 25-page Maine Rail-Trail Plan 2020-2030 has been released and is available for download and review.

The plan was developed by the Maine Trails Coalition (MTC), which draws together multiple Maine interest groups and citizens in a coordinated statewide effort to expand, connect, and maintain Maine’s network of off-road trails. MTC’s interests and participants span conservation, outdoor recreation, transportation, economic development, community enrichment, ecotourism, public health and fitness, climate and the environment, among others. A particular focus of MTC’s work is on regional trail connectivity.

The Maine Rail-Trail Plan calls for the construction of thirteen specific rail-trail projects over the next decade, and at least five prospective projects for development over the following decade. Each of these projects connects with, extends, and regionalizes an existing multi-use trail infrastructure. Collectively, these eighteen projects would add roughly 250 miles of inter-connected off-road trails, transforming the Maine communities they serve.

Portions of the Eastern Trail are listed both as an existing rail-trail, as well as a key part of the construction of thirteen specific rail-trail projects called for over the next decade.

The Maine Rail-Trail Plan is a living document that the Maine Trails Coalition plans to refine over time in consultation with local communities, regional authorities, state agencies, and the many interest groups concerned with rails and trails throughout Maine.

If you would like to be a part of creating an active transportation network that preserves an inter-urban train corridor, while creating healthy and connected communities throughout the state of Maine through a biking, walking, and running rail-trail system, please contact You can also sign up to receive MTC updates on all trail topics.


Latest News

The Maine Lighthouse Experience 2020 was a huge success!

This Year, the Maine Lighthouse Ride was the Maine Lighthouse Experience 2020. It was held September 5-12, 2020, and participants chose their own path, distance, and experience.

Thanks to all for joining us to support the Eastern Trail by participating in the Maine Lighthouse Experience. We LOVED the photos participants shared with us. Many were able to get out on the trail, but others also walked, ran or rode their bikes in their neighborhoods, on the roads and around lighthouses, both in and out of state!

Congratulations to the following raffle prize winners:

  • $100 gift card to TRADER JOES- Aaron Quinn
  • $100 gift card to TRADER JOES- Althea Latady
  • $200 gift card to Gorham Bike – Arnie MacDonald
  • Oil Painting- Carol McAllister
  • Quilt- Kelly Whetstone
  • Old Marsh Golf gift card – Bob Brandt
  • Higgins Beach Inn gift card – Gretchen Martin
  • Cottage Breeze Beach Tote – Laurie Bassett

A huge thank you to all of our sponsors for their support of the Maine Lighthouse Experience and the Eastern Trail:

  • Anthem
  • Blais Civil Engineers
  • Bowker & Associates
  • Clean Harbors
  • Credere Associates
  • Hancock Lumber
  • Kennebunk Savings Bank
  • Martin’s Point Health Care
  • Mitchell Tardy Jackson
  • North Dam Mills
  • Oakhurst
  • People’s Choice Bank
  • Saco & Biddeford Savings Bank
  • Town & Country FCU
  • Woodman Edmands Danylik Austin Smith & Jacques, PA
  • York Hospital
  • Whole Foods

Again, many thanks for supporting the Eastern Trail. We truly hope 2021 brings the return of 1,000 riders for the Maine Lighthouse Ride!

Latest News

ET Share the Trail Shirts – Back by popular demand!

As part of a special time-limited fundraiser for the Eastern Trail, you can once again order t-shirts and pullover hoodies with a special “Share the Trail” design.

Shirts are available as custom t-shirts (including long sleeve tees) as well as sweatshirt pullover hoodies, and are available in all sizes.

Go here to Order a shirt to support the Eastern Trail!

This offer is for a limited time only. Proceeds will benefit the Eastern Trail Alliance.

Carole Brush on the Eastern Trail
Latest News

Managing Maine’s Popular Trails: New Challenges

[Ed. Note. One of the three women this article features is our own Carole Brush, the Executive Director of the Eastern Trail Management District. Carole’s story appears last in the article]

Maine Women Magazine July 2020 |  By R. Cook

Kristine Keeney, Carrie Kinne, and Carole Brush are three Maine women who find themselves in an unexpected position that presents great opportunity and enormous challenges, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The three women manage three of Maine’s most popular trail networks from northern Maine to York County. The trails are being used by record numbers of people who crave outdoor recreation as an escape from the daily stress and anxiety generated by the coronavirus. But those record numbers also present difficult challenges to ensure everyone’s safety in the new normal of social distancing.

Kristine never thought she would ever see a situation like the one that has unfolded across the state. She serves as the New England coordinator of the East Coast Greenway Alliance. The 32-year-old lives in Greenwood near Bethel in the Western Maine mountains and is looking forward to marrying her fiancé, Jake. She originally hails from the New Haven, Connecticut, area, but Maine has always held a special place in her heart.

“I started coming to Maine in 2008 or so. It was actually for skiing in a ski club at Sunday River,” Kristine recalls. When she attended graduate school in 2013, she was living in Portland and commuting to Boston via the Downeaster. Her goal was to become the city’s bicycle coordinator.

She worked in that role for a few years and increased the bicycle network by creating more bicycle parking at a time when bicyclists wanted to have more freedom to share the road with motor vehicle traffic. “I was always into bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure.” She later accepted a planner position in Vermont for three towns near the Sugarbush Ski Resort area. She worked on a lot of trail projects in the Green Mountain State, mapped out trails for the whole region, and created user-friendly map kiosks. In July 2018, Kristine moved back to Maine when her present job was available.

She now oversees a trail network that extends from Calais to Rhode Island as part of a system that extends from Maine all the way to Key West, Florida. Maine has 340 miles, and the New Hampshire Seacoast has 17 miles, followed by another 145 miles in Massachusetts and 50 miles in Rhode Island.

In her role, Kristine works with smaller Maine trail groups like the Kennebec Estuary in Bath and the Eastern Trail Alliance in Saco that have direct management over their specific trail systems. Kristine helps them work with regional planners, local governments, and utility companies to design trails, maintain existing trail standards, and add new trails. Kristine spends a great deal of time advocating for trail funding in Augusta and keeps her trail part ners updated on important rule changes such as the COVID-19 guidelines issued by Gov. Janet Mills and
the Maine Centers for Disease Control.

Kristine is an avid biker herself. “I fell in love with it because of the flexibility and convenience, as well as the health benefits.” Biking can also help people enjoy a physical, outdoor activity while maintaining proper social distancing from others. “Biking is a great option to distance yourself from other people as well as having a great outlet for physical and mental health.”

She sees this new attention paid to biking as one of the strange benefits wrought by the current pandemic. After years of advocating for increased funding for trail networks throughout Maine and New England and spreading awareness about the health and environmental benefits of increased bicycle transportation, Kristine is seeing more people gravitate toward these causes. For example, trail use has tripled on Portland’s popular Back Cove Trail from March 2019 to March 2020, from 325 users per day to more than 1,000 daily users because of COVID-19, and that number will more than likely continue to climb as summer approaches.

As this trend unfolded, Kristine and other trail network managers were scrambling to educate trail users about the importance of social distancing. They want people to be mindful of the parking lots, for instance. If the lots are full, come back another day to use the trail, or pick a day when the weather is not as perfect, when fewer people will venture out.

“It’s a type of moving target when it comes to best practices,” Kristine said.

Maine trails are getting overwhelmed because, Kristine explains, there are more people from other communities who are traveling to different cities and towns to access those trails. Some communities have closed trail parking lots to traffic to limit access to hikers and bicyclists. When the state closed beaches and state coastal parks, that put more pressure on the existing trail network.

“It’s a situation that honestly none of us thought we would find ourselves in,” she said.

For Carrie Kinne, the executive director of the Kennebec Estuary, she and her volunteers already have their hands full striking the right balance between increased trail use and public health concerns. The Yarmouth resident oversees 30 miles of trails that include 12 preserves and 28 easements, including the latest one in Richmond.

Her trail network extends from Richmond down to West Bath and Dresden down to Georgetown. She said her group just celebrated its 30th anniversary. They have come a long way from the days when its founders were sitting around kitchen tables and first discussed protecting vast tracts of land to protect natural habitat and allow public enjoyment.

Carrie completely understands why so many people who may have never enjoyed the Kennebec Estuary’s trails are using them now. “There are things you think of when you think of Maine, like nature, the environment, and the landscape. If you are from Maine, you may take it for granted.”

Carrie is hopeful the trail scout program they started when COVID-19 really took off in Maine will pay dividends. The program allows people to share their observation about the trails. “It’s getting a lot of traction.” Trail scouts also report the activity they are seeing on the trail, as well as trail conditions, to serve as the estuary organization’s eyes. As a result, more people in the community feel vested and engaged in the Kennebec Estuary’s work.

Carrie said the estuary’s corps of volunteers will make sure the trails are nice and wide to accommodate the growing number of users they will see this summer. “There are going to be
busy times, but ultimately you try to get the message out there as best you can,” Carrie said. “There should be ample space for everybody out there.”

Carrie has also been vested in Maine’s environment and its position as a leader in preserving public lands. She is originally from Farmingdale and spent a great deal of her career in the healthcare industry before she joined the Kennebec Estuary. “Out of all the non-profit work that I’ve done, this is incredibly rewarding.”

Carrie has been married to Jack for 20 years and the couple have four stepchildren and seven grandchildren, all under age nine. The kids love exploring the trails as much as Carrie does.

Meanwhile, the situation in southern Maine could be more complex for Carole Brush. As the executive director of the Eastern Trail Management District in Saco since 2007, Carole has already seen trails like Scarborough Marsh get overwhelmed with users to the point where social distancing was impossible. Carole said a survey showed the number of Scarborough Marsh trail users increased from 4,000 in April 2019 to 12,000 this April. In May 2019, they saw 7,000 people use the same trail compared to a projected 21,000 people this May.

“Maybe the big benefit of all this is that people are getting out more and exercising more and are really taking advantage of what we have,” Carole believes. “The use of the trail has tripled from what it was a year ago.” In some ways, it’s a nice problem to have for trail advocates who are always looking for ways to extoll the trail network’s benefits. But like her colleagues Kristine and Carrie, Carole could never have foreseen a situation like this unfolding in 2020.

She has been with the Eastern Trail Management District (EMTD) since 2007. She wanted to live in Maine to be close to her family and become an Audubon Society registered guide for the Scarborough Marsh. Since her earliest years growing up in New Jersey, Carole has had a love affair with nature.

“From the time I was a child, going out to nature was always my go-to place,” she said. “Maybe the big benefit of all this is that people are getting out more and exercising more and are really taking advantage of what we have.” Carole studied land conservation when she attended Ramapo College in New Jersey and ended up splitting her time between Boulder, Colorado, and New York State for the next 10 years. “It was a pretty tough commute, but it was worth it.”

In New York, Carole led hikes and taught fitness classes at the Mohawk Preserve and the Mohawk Mountain House in the Hudson Valley region. Carole has five grandchildren and has been single for quite a while. “My work is a big part of my passion, to be out there on the trails and keep conserving land for trails.”

Carole said her volunteers will continue to post signage and utilize social media to spread the word about the importance of social distancing so everyone can enjoy the trails. They will also have trail ambassadors to guide people to stay six feet apart. More importantly, the public’s willingness to comply with the new normal will ensure the trails remain open.

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic dominates their attention, Carole said the ETMD is still working on three projects to expand and improve the existing trail network. One involves creating a 1.6-mile link between South Portland and Scarborough. The other two projects involve a three-mile stretch to connect Thornton Academy in Saco to Southern Maine Medical Center in Biddeford and an 18-mile stretch from Kennebunk near Alewives Road south all the way to South Berwick. The work to maintain and expand existing trail networks and to educate the public about how best they can enjoy them now is an ongoing process.

“It takes a village or several to build a trail,” Carole observes. It may also take several villages to keep the trails safe and accessible this summer and beyond.

Latest News

Press Release – Eastern Trail Hires New Executive Director

Tad Redway, V.P. of the Eastern Trail Management District, (207) 985-4201 X108 and
Bob Hamblen, President of the Eastern Trail Alliance, 207-294-2962 and

Eastern Trail Hires New Executive Director

Biddeford – The Board of Directors of the Eastern Trail Alliance and the Eastern Trail Management District announced this week the hiring of Jon Kachmar as its next Executive Director.
Mr. Kachmar has extensive experience that includes working closely with government agencies, municipal officials, and business and nonprofit leaders across New England focused on the triple bottom line benefits—environmental, social and economic wins.

“My introduction to Jon came nearly twenty years ago when he led an effort that resulted in the “Saco Bay Management Plan,” a blueprint for the communities of Biddeford, Old Orchard Beach, Saco and Scarborough to aid in managing their coastal resources,” said Bob Hamblen, president of the Eastern Trail Alliance. “Jon is a consummate professional with a great employment background and a love of the outdoors. We’re excited to welcome his assistance with the continued development of the Eastern Trail.”

Mr. Kachmar is equally excited about his new role. “I have observed first-hand how parks and trails can offer significant benefits to mental and physical well-being, environmental stewardship, sustainable tourism, and cultural vibrancy of communities. The Eastern Trail, and its connection to the East Coast Greenway, is a shining example of the magic that can happen when people and nature are matched up to provide mutual benefits.”

The mission of the Eastern Trail Alliance is to build, maintain, and promote the use of the Eastern Trail, a recreation and transportation greenway from Casco Bay to the Piscataqua River in Kittery, Maine. We do this by inspiring individuals and private and public organizations to partner with us to support this incomparable resource.

The Eastern Trail Management District is a 501(c) non-profit organization comprised of member municipalities designed to oversee and coordinate the construction and management of the Eastern Trail.