Connecting Connecticut – The Farmington River Trail

August 3, 2011
Photo (from left to Right): Canton Police Officer Mark Selander; Canton First Selectman Dick Barlow; State Senator Kevin Witkos; and Canton Selectman Steve Roberto.

Photo (from left to Right): Canton Police Officer Mark Selander; Canton First Selectman Dick Barlow; State Senator Kevin Witkos; and Canton Selectman Steve Roberto.

In late July I had the opportunity to join Governor Malloy and members of our community to celebrate the opening of the new Farmington River Trail.

People, families and legislators all gathered to watch the ribbon cutting of a newly paved trail that connects Old River Road in Collinsville to Route 44. The segment of trail, which is 1.8 miles in length, is a 10 foot wide paved trail that joins a scenic biking and walking trail along the Farmington River.

The Farmington River Trail runs along the Central New England Railroad Corridor extending through the towns of Farmington, Canton and Burlington. Going forward, the ultimate goal will be to build a paved pathway from New Haven, Connecticut to Northampton, Massachusetts along the Connecticut Valley Railroad Trail System. When fully completed, the entire trail will offer an 84 mile route for all types of outdoor recreation.

Pathway construction in our towns began back in 1999 and was designed and built as a three phase project. Phase one was completed in 1999 and phase two in 2004, both as a cooperative venture between the three trail towns. The funding for this last segment of trail came from the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and I am pleased to say was completed well under budget.

One of the many great features of this trail is that it draws on our state’s and nation’s history. In the early 1800’s a canal was dug to facilitate trade via waterway from New Haven to Northampton. Soon after, with the increase of the railroad, a rail line was built along the canal route. As years went by the rail and canal line were no longer utilized, but with the construction of this recreational trail, people and families will once again put that original path and canal way back to use.

Like that of the Farmington River and the many other natural attractions in our region of the state, the Farmington River Trail provides an economic benefit. This new tourist destination will draw folks from near and far, taking them along the river, through our towns, and into restaurants, inns and athletic shops.

The trail also offers an outdoor escape to athletes, families and nature lovers. I look forward to seeing families bike the trail with their children in carriers, parents teaching a child to ride a two-wheeler, marathon runners, dog walkers, people skating by on rollerblades and skateboards, or those walking and taking in the natural beauty of the river and trail.

Not only are there economic and health benefits to the trail line, but looking further, there are also safety and green elements as well. The trail creates a safe area for people and our children so that they do not have to bike and walk along the busy streets or state roads. And, for the many folks who support the environment by biking to work, the new paved path is a perfect safe avenue for just that – and you can’t get lost!

I am so pleased to have been a part of the celebration and opening of this trail, and am even more pleased that the 8th Senate District has a new outdoor attraction that spans all generations and interests. See you out there!