My son had one of his first bike rides last summer on the Kennebec River Rail Trail. As I watched him teeter along, I was proud to see him reach this important milestone. I was also grateful that the trail offered a safe place to ride, beautiful surroundings and an ice cream destination as a reward.

Judging by the many people we’ve seen on several rail-trail adventures since then, it’s clear many others appreciate being able to use these valuable trails as well.

Right now, Maine has an incredible opportunity to strengthen its rail-trail network and bring its economic and health benefits to more communities. The state has many miles of rail line that haven’t been used in decades – lack of demand and prohibitive repair costs mean that most of these will never see a train again. Building trails on them would cost a fraction of the price and they will be heavily used.

The Mountain Division Line is one such opportunity. The Legislature is now considering L.D. 672, a bill to study the economic impact of building a paved, multi-use trail on its 28 miles between Fryeburg and Standish. It has been nearly 40 years since rail service on this section ended.

How much longer will we wait at the station for a train that may never come? The longer we do, the longer we miss out on the immediate benefits that could be had with trails and the memories to be made on them.

Andrew Colvin

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