Over the River Campaign

Over The River logo

The Goal:  The Over the River section of trail transits 3 miles through Saco and Biddeford. This section represents the most significant population density along the trail and building improved trail connections through these two communities is a priority. Building off-road trail through existing cities is certainly challenging, but with your help we can make it happen. The Eastern Trail Alliance (ETA) and Eastern Trail Management District  (ETMD) are focused on safer off-road options for connecting this section of trail to existing off-road sections of the trial to the north and south. An alternative route over the Saco River is particularly important to avoid crossing the river via the current route, which includes heavy vehicle traffic.

You can help! The ETA/ETMD together with Biddeford and Saco have embarked on a fundraising campaign reaching out to members, individuals, businesses and foundations. If you would like to to make Over the River a reality, please use the Donate button below.

If you prefer an alternative payment method, please contact us at info@easterntrail.org.

What will the Donation be used for?

  • Federal grant match (typically an 80% / 20 % match of federal to local dollars)

  • Leverage for our Congressionally Directed Spending Request for 2023 ($2M for engineering design of this section of trail). Contact Senator King’s office and let them know the Eastern Trail–Over the River project is important! How to contact his office: https://www.king.senate.gov/contact

Over the River Campaign Map April 2022
Over the River Campaign Map, Saco & Biddeford, April 2022. Click on the image for a larger view.


(click on thumbnail images above to view a larger version)

The Result: This project will add 3 miles to the Eastern Trail and connect the existing 16 miles of trail to the north with 6 miles of trail south of Biddeford, resulting in 7 communities linked for off-road, human-powered travel, access to nature, and fun!

The ETA and the ETMD are teaming up to promote trail-associated benefits to communities in Cumberland and York Counties. Why? Among other reasons, based on our 2018 ETA Economic Impact Study, over 251,000 annual visitors visited 22 miles of the off-road ET generating approximately $3,000,000 for soft and hard goods plus equipment rentals. Trails are good for Maine and promote economic development.

About: The Eastern Trail has support from several local businesses and the property owner, a natural gas utility. We are working to secure permission from the railroad who owns most of this stretch as an off-road alternative for future trail. The Cities of Saco and Biddeford, the surrounding communities and businesses are working together with the Eastern Trail to plan the next steps for acquiring a right of way through downtown Saco and Biddeford.

More than adequate space along the infrequently used freight rail corridorIn January 2021, the cities and ETMD were awarded an MaineDOT grant for trail feasibility to understand the technical challenges and associated costs. As of June 2020, The Eastern Trail and the two cities have provided local match to share the cost of this work.

One challenge for completing this section is the need to get across the Saco River. The feasibility study will help determine whether the trail can utilize an existing rail bridge, which could reduce costs significantly.

Funding for this work will require resources from Federal/State sources, municipalities, foundations and private individuals and businesses. Costs per mile for an ADA accessible trail can be as high as $1M per mile to plan, design and build.