What is this East Coast Greenway, Anyway?

East Coast Greenway runs through and behind Bushnell Park, exiting in back of the Legislative Office Building garage

East Coast Greenway runs through and behind Bushnell Park, exiting in back of the Legislative Office Building garage

Marked portion of the East Coast Greenway, behind Bushnell Park and the Legislative Office Building

The majority of the East Coast Greenway — a route for non-motorized users which has been compared to an Interstate Highway System — is currently on-road. Existing since 1991, it connects major cities from Canada to Florida. The goal is to have 95% of the ECG off-road (separated from motor vehicles) by 2030.

Portion of the cuesheet produced by the East Coast Greenway

Portion of the cuesheet produced by the East Coast Greenway Alliance

Oddly, the Intermodal Triangle Project, receiving partial funding through the TIGER program, is planning to take action that appears to set this goal back; although the ECG runs through Bushnell Park, where there are no vehicles besides those belonging to the Department of Public Works and the police, there are plans to move the ECG onto streets next to the park, pushing cyclists back out into traffic. There is no description given to the nature of these bike lanes. Will they be divided from traffic with jersey barriers? Will lanes be painted a solid green to denote that no motor vehicles, including buses, can dart into them? Will they be nothing more than a larger shoulder with the cyclist symbol stenciled on like we see elsewhere in the city? The TIGER grant application submitted by the City is long on buzzwords and short on useful details about how infrastructure will change.

Though given a spotlight position on the City of Hartford website, there has been little public attention given to the Intermodal Triangle Project. It will be discussed, in some capacity, at tonight’s iQuilt forum, to be held at the Old State House from 5:30-8pm.

At Monday night’s City Council meeting, request for approval of the TIGER grant was referred to the Planning & Economic Development Committee. The funding would not cover the entire cost of this Intermodal Triangle Project, the plans of which are at once detailed and vague. In them, there is no recognition that the East Coast Greenway exists already in Hartford. The wording makes it sound as if the planned development of bike lanes will be the first introduction of the ECG to the city.

Currently, the ECG provides a relatively safer route for cyclists and others to follow. There are established rules — cyclists must yield to pedestrians, who must yield to equestrians. Pets must be leashed. Cyclists are expected to wear helmets. Courtesy is expected from all users of the East Coast Greenway.

Locally, it uses the Founders’ Bridge to allow cyclists and other users to meander to and through East Hartford, eventually connecting to the Charter Oak Greenway, a well-maintained trail that provides access to Manchester Community College and Wickham Park. In the opposite direction, the ECG makes a loop north of Hartford, onto the off-road Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, before turning south toward New Haven. The cuesheet describes exactly where the East Coast Greenway currently runs in Hartford.

Tonight’s overview of the implementation of the TIGER grant is free and open to the public.