ARUNDEL – The trail was slick with sleet Friday morning and the rain was cold, but John Andrews happily covered ground in his work boots as he gave a tour through the wood-lined path leading to the Kennebunk River.

It was the newest section of the Eastern Trail, and after several trail “unveilings” in as many years, Andrews is getting used to showing off this ever-expanding off-road trail in southern Maine.

The Eastern Trail begins at Bug Light in South Portland and the plan is to extend it all the way to Kittery, some 70 miles. It currently travels off road in sections through South Portland, Scarborough, Saco, Old Orchard Beach and now, with the newest section, across Biddeford, Arundel and Kennebunk.

It is part of the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway, which trail advocates believe will one day stretch from Calais to Key West, Fla.

On Tuesday, Andrews will help to christen 5 miles of stone-dust trail along an old rail bed from Biddeford to Arundel and across the Kennebunk River to Kennebunk, where another 1.2 miles will be completed this summer and span Interstate 95 to West Kennebunk.

fall, cyclists will be able to ride off road from Kennebunk to Biddeford, and then after some on-road riding in Biddeford and Saco, all the way to the Nonesuch River in Scarborough with little to no street riding.

The next phase awaits Andrews’ attention: a $3 million project to put a bridge over the Nonesuch and send the trails to the Wainwright ball fields in South Portland.

From that point, the off-road trail runs straight to Bug Light and Casco Bay.

It’s been 12 years in the making and nearly 20 miles, but Andrews isn’t done yet.

“I’m not patient,” said Andrews, a retired engineer and president of the Eastern Trail Alliance.

Tony Barrett of Harpswell, who sits on the board of the East Coast Greenway, said the latest 5-mile section bumps Maine’s total amount of completed off-road trail on the East Coast path — a total of 427 miles — to 28 percent, more than any other state.

Barrett said the new section should inspire trail advocates across the state and beyond.

“This will serve as an example to the communities in Maine,” Barrett said. “When people are searching for an example of a facility that helps to solve our problems — health and transportation and the quality of place — I think this is one.”

And it all began with one question.

Nearly 30 years ago Andrews, a Gardiner native, returned to Maine, looked around and wondered where the trails were.

“I had gotten used to the trails in Boston. Where do you go cross-country skiing or biking?” recalled Andrews.

So he founded Saco Bay Trails and then the Eastern Trail Alliance to add a southern Maine section of trail to the East Coast Greenway.

To expedite that effort, Andrews helped create the Eastern Trail Management District, the civic organization made up of the towns along the southern Maine trail that advocates for state and federal funding for the trail.

“He is truly extraordinary for what he’s been able to do in southern Maine and within the East Coast Greenway. He has been the most productive champion of the (East Coast) trail,” said David Read, East Coast Greenway’s incoming chairman.

Read, who runs the oncology department at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, said he believes Andrews will finish the trail in southern Maine because of the health benefits in off-road trails and the need for those benefits.

“After the next 6.2 miles and with a bridge over the Maine Turnpike and the trail connecting to schools, he will be successful,” Read said. “These projects take forever. The ideas percolate for years.

“But once you get a little success, success begets success.”

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

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