ConnDOT: Officials Celebrate Connection between Air Line and Hop River Trails

FOR RELEASE: May 14, 2016
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Officials Celebrate Connection between Air Line and Hop River Trails

                State and local officials today marked the completion of a new bridge connecting the Air Line and Hop River trails in Windham – a key link in a larger regional network that is part of an ongoing program to close gaps in the East Coast Greenway bike and pedestrian trail project throughout Connecticut.

               The town of Windham, along with the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), cooperated to repurpose this bridge and construct a new junction for $1.5 million.  Heading east, CTDOT and DEEP have teamed up with additional municipalities and are in the process of improving 17 miles of the Air Line Trail through the towns of Windham, Chaplin, Hampton, Pomfret, Putnam and Thompson.

               “The East Coast Greenway is the nation’s most ambitious long-distance urban trail – running 3,000 miles from Key West, Florida, to Calais, Maine, with 195 miles through Connecticut,” said CTDOT Commissioner James P. Redeker at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new link. “By connecting existing and planned shared-use trails, a continuous, traffic-free route is being formed, serving users of all abilities and ages.”

                “Completion of this bridge linking the Air Line and Hop River Trails is a perfect example of how DEEP and DOT are working together to improve and expand our outdoor recreation opportunities for Connecticut’s families,” said DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee. “This successful project now makes these trails more accessible and simply more fun for people to enjoy.”

                “The completion of this new bridge – connecting the Air Line and Hop River Trails – will bring countless recreational benefits to Eastern Connecticut and expand the incredible East Coast Greenway.  Collaboration between state and local officials is vastly improving accessibility to multi-use trails across Connecticut,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, who also attended today’s ribbon-cutting.

               Under the improvement project partnership, DEEP and the municipalities provided the labor necessary to clear trees, grade the landscape and install the necessary surface materials, while the Federal Highway Administration and CTDOT funded the materials cost for the project.

               The CTDOT/DEEP improvement project will be completed later this year, creating 33 miles of multi-use trail. This effort, along with two other projects now being designed – the Hop River State Park Trail in Columbia/Coventry and the Moosup Valley Trail in Plainfield/Sterling – will close other gaps in the East Coast Greenway by 2019.

               The “Air Line” refers to a now-defunct railroad system in eastern Connecticut, which began operations in the 1870s and got its name from the towering iron viaducts along its route. At one point in the early 20th Century, all of the line’s rail cars were painted white with gold trim, and it was popularly known as the “Ghost Train.”

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