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, corporations, legislators and foundations. If you would like to contribute to this campaign, use the Donate button below to pay by Credit Card, or via a PayPal Account.
If you prefer to pay by check, please send a check to: Eastern Trail Alliance – P.O. Box 250 – Saco, ME 04072 and please indicate OVER THE RIVER CAMPAIGN on the memo line.
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.
In 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.