Airline Trail in Portland, East Hampton, Getting Attention

Newly elected state representative Melissa Ziobron wants to make the biking, walking and hiking trail more prominent in the state.


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."

popular with cyclists, hikers and walkers, runs from East Hampton's village for miles across Connecticut's central woodlands, ending in the eastern part of the state.

It does not, however, currently connect with the portions of the trail in Portland.

In a recent piece in the Hartford Courant, columnist Peter Marteka questions why the state hasn't bothered to develop Portland's section of the trail and says the undeveloped and unmaintained portions of the trail in Portland are beginning to disappear.

"Is there any hope of connecting the Portland section with the rest of the Air Line Trail?" Marteka wrote. "With much of the right-of-way privately owned, there doesn't seem to be much hope. And with each year that passes, I see chunks of my childhood highway disappearing — but not the fond memories."

Barbara February 03, 2013 at 12:43 PM
Leave it alone so the animals have a place to live.
Melissa Hoy Ziobron February 03, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Thank you for covering this Eileen. I just spoke with someone from the Salmon River Watershed on Friday and hope they will also be supporting this bill. The goal would be for the Airline Trail to receive statute significance, in that it may help non-profit groups leverage additional funding to support preservation efforts. This trail is used heavily by hikers, bird watchers, cyclists and others who love nature. I was also glad to see you include the former article regarding MRPA. Thank you for highlighting it.
Eileen McNamara February 03, 2013 at 04:01 PM
You're welcome. The trail is a significant and popular resource in this area. I would love to see it connected with the trail in Portland. I'll look to do an update on that story in the next couple of weeks.
Pensadora February 03, 2013 at 07:00 PM
I use the trail every day. Once the bikers come out in droves, though, the walkers (especially of dogs) don't have a chance. They just take over the road. I don't know if there's any solution to that. If this bill serves to advertise the trail to a larger audience, peaceful walks are a thing of the past. The Marlborough trail, for instance, is a bikers paradise. Walkers there never get any peace and get very little road to themselves.
Thomas Johnson February 03, 2013 at 10:32 PM


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