Greenway Trail will provide car-free route to Key West

May 03, 1998|By Morgan Bitton | Morgan Bitton,COLUMBIA NEWS SERVICE

Imagine jogging from New York City to Key West, Fla., on a scenic coastal path, without gas, without cars, without tolls.

Assuming your legs can hold out, you may soon be able to run, walk, skate or bicycle on a 2,000-mile trail known as the East Coast Greenway, a recreational trail along the East Coast. It was begun in 1991, and portions of the trail have already opened in Maine, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

When the path is complete, it will connect cities including Boston, Baltimore, Washington, Charleston and Miami.

"It's literally going city to city," said Karen Votava, executive director of the East Coast Greenway Alliance, a national nonprofit organization. "It's an urban parallel to the Appalachian Trail."

The idea for the project began in 1991, when Votava and nine others visualized creating a bicycle and walking trail connecting existing greenways - natural corridors like riverfronts, stream valleys or ridge lines - with scenic roads and converted railroad tracks.

Soon after, they completed a 30-day bicycle journey promoting the concept and contacting supporters in each state. Now the goal is for 80 percent of the trail to be completed by 2010.

Votava estimates that the trail, which will comprise a 2,000-mile main route and 500 miles of side trails, will cost $300,000 a mile. Most of the money was allocated in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, which governs the disbursement of federal transportation money. State and municipal governments are also contributing.

The East Coast Greenway will be paved and open for any nonmotorized use. It will be wheelchair accessible. The alliance predicts that millions of tourists will use the trail each year.

Pub Date: 5/03/98

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