The East Coast Greenway: www.greenway.org
The East Coast Greenway is the nation’s most ambitious long-distance urban trail project. By connecting existing and planned shared-use trails, a continuous, traffic-free route is being formed, serving self-powered users of all abilities and ages. 3,000 miles long, the Greenway links Calais, Maine at the Canadian border with Key West, Florida. Alternate routes will add another 2,000 miles to the ECG trail system. (Greenway.org)
This project, started in November of 1991, provides hundreds of cities along the Atlantic shore region with an inviting place to experience nature and connect with other members of the community. In addition to acting as a linear park, the Greenway provides those within access a safe route to commute, as the trail doesn’t run alongside street traffic. As for the composition of the trail, the website describes it as, “A linear park [that] will be entirely on public right-of-way, incorporating waterfront esplanades, park paths, abandoned railroad corridors, canal towpaths, and pathways along highway corridors.” Though it does not exclusively utilize converted rails as my project proposal did, the project informed my design by confirming that it would not fall into one of the biggest follies that ambitious public works projects often face: apathy. While the health benefits of trail use and exercise are widely publicized, this precedent provided me with the proof that the biggest driver in my proposed system change would likely work as the Greenway had. What it relied on most was the assumption that the public desire to use a long-distance trail network would be there in the first place.