An inspiring part of our three days in Connecticut was seeing gaps in the trails being closed. And East Coast Greenway advocates are a big reason.
We had heard that work was being done to turn the 4.7-mile section of railway line into more of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail north of where we parked on Cheshire on the second day of our Connecticut exploration. So of course we had to look.
There’s no sign of anything in the first section, between Cornwall Avenue and West Main Street; in fact, there is at least one active business. Willow Street, just around the corner, is a quiet road, so easy to ride (but no sidewalk or shoulder, so less easy to walk). And this newspaper article says the work will be done next year.
But a section beginning at West Main Street in Cheshire was just about done. The new crosswalk signals and barriers to keep motorists from getting on the trail still had to go up. A fence was up, but that wasn’t stopping locals from taking their bikes on the trail. One man told us about a new 70-car parking lot (I predict it will be busy) and solar-powered restrooms along the new section.
Further up, a section needed a second coat of asphalt.
And at the very northern end of this section, the trail was marked out but had absolutely no asphalt. But it’s all supposed to be finished this year.
Finally, the southernmost leg in New Haven is in construction too.
The bottom line: Best I can tell, come the end of the year, all but less than a mile of a 26-mile stretch of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail from New Haven (accessible by train from New York) to Southington (all part of the East Coast Greenway) will be complete.
And two breweries apparently are coming to Southington — could there be any better bicyclist magnet beyond that ice cream shop at the edge of the trail?
After that, there’s still one big remaining gap to close on this trail — essentially between all this construction in Southington to where we parked on Friday. And planning has started for that. Then it will be easy to bike traffic-free from the Connecticut coastline to Massachusetts.
The bad news is it’s supposed to be five years until it’s done. Planning alone will take two.
In the meantime, it looked like you could ride on the road. You just need to feel comfortable with traffic. We just didn’t have time to try it out.
Here’s a full “state of the trails” report from the Farmington Valley Trails Council on what done and what’s not, including the Massachusetts section we barely saw.
There is an organized ride this Saturday (June 25) leaving from New Haven if you want to try out the entire 56-mile stretch. A grand opening ceremony is planned for that new piece in Cheshire.
Given what we saw, once finished, this new section should be popular with Connecticut residents. It hopefully lure in plenty of out-of-staters too, bringing in some extra tourism dollars.
We saw more trail construction east of Hartford, but that’s part of my next post.