Officials in Portland are hoping to develop a 2.7-mile stretch of the old Airline Trail in their town and to ultimately get it extended so it would hook up with the portion of the Airline Trail in East Hampton.
The East Hampton leg of the trail is part of a more extensive and popular cycling, walking and hiking trail that runs many miles into eastern Connecticut.
First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield told the Hartford Courant recently that she and other local officials in Portland have been working on getting the funds needed to develop portions of the old railroad line in her town.
"It's a competitive process with a lot of towns seeking the same money," Bransfield told Courant Columnist Peter Marteka. "We are waiting for our turn. A lot of people would love to connect to East Hampton and that is still a long-standing goal of ours."
The trail has been getting renewed attention recently.
A year ago Melissa Ziobron made an impassioned pitch to a regional planning group for funding to continue the long-unused Airline Trail in Portland to the leg of the trail in East Hampton.
When the Midstate Regional Planning Agency voted to give $1 million to a Middletown project instead, Ziobron, who recently took office as the new state representative in the 34th House Assembly District, argued that too often smaller towns like East Hampton and Portland get overlooked for such limited funding of local projects.
Since her election, however Ziobron has vowed to work to help her small-town constituents. One of her recently filed bills calls on the state to officially recognize the Airline Trail as an historic state landmark.
"This trail is an important landmark and center for recreational activities in our community," Ziobron said recently. "We all cherish this linear trail which connects many eastern Connecticut communities and I hope to cement it in our official state’s history."