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									Upper Valley Trails Connect: Loop Trail
Located in the heart of this scenic bi-state 40 town region, the Loop Trail will form a hub, connecting the population centers of Norwich and Hartford, VT with Hanover and Lebanon, NH. Additional trails, roads, and public transit systems will inter-connect with the loop, as spokes on a wheel, to form an integrated transportation and recreation system throughout the Upper Valley. Over time, these improvements will enhance quality of life in the community by providing more transportation, recreation, health and fitness, social, and educational opportunities. The Upper Valley is a unique bi-state region that would benefit from an improved transportation network featuring an integrated multi-community trails network. Trails for education and recreation, pathways for health improvement, safe routes to school, alternative commuting corridors, opportunities for enhanced commerce, and places for community building, “Solace in Nature”, and athletics. With a shared vision, “promoting trails, connecting communities”, the Upper Valley will create a multi-modal, four season, “green” infrastructure, including trails, roads, sidewalks, and transit connections, along with the programs and policies that support the system. Project sustainability will be based on a volunteer corp. In March, 2008, the Upper Valley Trails Alliance convened a regional trail network forum called Trails Connect where participants identified the Upper Valley Loop Trail as the primary project to create a regional trail system. The Loop will form the foundation for which local and regional trail policies will develop and a great network of trails will connect the fabric of our communities. Using existing infra-structure, including paths, multi-use trails, sidewalks, bike lanes, and roads, a primary loop will be identified and signed to guide trail users towards key community destination points, including places of employment, shopping malls, services, town centers, parks, athletic facilities, churches and schools. As monies and opportunities arise in the future, improvements will be made to the multi-modal loop system - adjusting or editing routes to better accommodate the various user groups, including walkers, hikers, runners, bicyclists, bird-watchers, commuters, mountain bikers, and ADA access. Spurs trails will be used to reach final destinations and Urban Trail Loops will provide easy access to many key features and special places within community neighborhoods. A team of “Trail Connect” advocates will work to promote trails as a priority for our communities and the quality of life they bring to the Valley. As concerns grow about traffic congestion (yes, even in the Upper Valley!), global climate change, the disconnect between today’s youth and nature, and the health impacts of a sedentary lifestyle, especially childhood obesity, there is an increasingly compelling case for using trails as a relatively simple, effective, and economically accessible element of solutions to these issues. Trails are a means to engage individuals with their community as well as with their own physical and emotional health, and are recognized as essential elements of community recreation, transportation, and health infrastructures. Trails build connections between generations, preserve historic corridors, and are a vital means to introduce children to the natural world. UPPER VALLEY TRAILS ALLIANCE P.O. BOX 111 NORWICH, VT 05055 uvtrails.org PROMOTING TRAILS, CONNECTING COMMUNITIES

TRAILS CONNECT BENEFITS What are the benefits to individuals and communities?       
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Ease road congestion Individual and community health Promote local businesses along active transportation corridors Reducing health care costs Curbing climate change emissions and oil dependency Promote family and community Wise, efficient and desirable public investment.

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Mobility and Economic Development–create walkable communities o most trips/errands are 1 mile or less o roads not safe enough to bike/walk to make short trips o promote business by connecting communities Our pocketbooks o gas prices will surely go back up o car ownership is the second largest expenditure o bike/walk paths and mass transit will save money Climate o vehicles are sources of greenhouse gases o building bike/walk path and mass transit will reduce pollution Family and Community o BUILD COMMUNITIES –link residential, business, education o Create traffic free areas to recreate o Provide accessible transportation choices Health o Promote healthy lifestyles o Reduce childhood obesity o Generate moderate physical activity

Who benefits?       Hikers Walkers Cyclists Athletes Paddlers COMMUTERS & BUSINESSES       Cross country skiers Snowshoers Birders (conservationists) Sledders/mushers Horseback riders SCHOOLS

ACTION PLAN Upper Valley Loop Trail Over the next 12 to 16 months(from November 2008) have loop trail located and marked on the ground using existing infrastructure How will communities work together?  4 towns in the Upper Valley create partnership to make loop connection  Loop trail will form the backbone or hub for the trail network  Loop trail project will help to change trail management policy throughout the region  Lay foundation for communication and infra-structure to be built on when additional funding becomes available  Volunteer pools will make the projects sustainable Phase One  Meet with Town/City officials & Advocates to: a. share general concept of the Loop Trail project. b. seek suggestions for steering committee partners  Prepare general concept map  Establish Steering Committee  Four working groups representing hub (Hartford, Norwich, Hanover, Lebanon)  Review past feasibility studies to understand loop trail history & options considered  Each group identifies parallel alignments that will facilitate various user interests  Communication between Steering Committee & Town/City Reps. Committees  Adopt proposed route map edits and finalize phase one map  Misc: mapping, signage, permitting/permissions, policy (zoning, maintenance, systems)  Seek endorsement of Loop trail concept by policy makers (Selectboards & City Council) Additional Action Items  Seek regional input - Maps sent to RPCs and State Transportation Depts. - Does Loop Trail concept align with Regional/State Transportation Plans?  Loop Trail outreach and promotion campaign - Upper Valley Loop Trail “one pager”/Trail Benefits/Questions & Answers Paper - News Release (timing?) - Public Comment (UVTA BLOG)  Inventory existing trails and routes including land ownership, trail agreements, trail conditions and use options.  Research current and future trail/road/bike path/transportation projects and include in plan  Linking Lands o Alliance planning o Multi-town conservation planning (wildlife corridor identification, etc.).  Explore urban trail loops as a component within the Upper Valley Loop Trail  Inclusion of Woodland Trail use  Explore multi-purpose trail system Potential Concurrent Actions:  Work with community boards to adopt new site plan review rules to include bike/pedestrian/trail needs  Expanding Northern Rail Trail  Looking for more connections across the Connecticut River (ferry? pedestrian bridge?)


								
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