Millinocket seeks funds to extend scenic byway

Posted April 28, 2009, at 8:50 p.m.

MILLINOCKET, Maine — The town will know in six weeks or so whether it has received a $10,000 grant to help establish parts of Route 157 as a scenic byway, a designation that would make the road a magnet for tourists, officials said Tuesday.

The state Department of Economic and Community Development is reviewing the town’s application for Community Development Block Grant funds after receiving it Friday, Town Manager Eugene Conlogue said.

If the town receives the grant, the $10,000 will go toward matching an $80,000 federal grant that will pay for signs, marketing, infrastructure improvement and other aspects of the regional plan, which involves extending the Grindstone Scenic Byway from Medway’s Grindstone Road on Route 157 and Lake Road to the Baxter State Park entrance.

The Grindstone Scenic Byway was one of three new byways the Maine Department of Transportation added to the Maine Scenic Byways Program in 2007.

The others:

— The Seboomook Scenic Byway, 49 miles of Route 15 from the Indian Hill Rest Area in Greenville northwest to the intersection of Route 15 and U.S. Route 201 in Jackman.

— The Evans Notch Scenic Byway, 60 miles of Route 113 between Standish and the Batchelder’s Grant-Gilead town line.

The byways are featured on the state DOT Web site’s scenic roads listing, are printed on more than 10,000 DOT maps and have road signs advertising their status. This, and heavy Internet traffic, help draw tourism.

Scenic byways also draw state and federal funding that can be used for roadside improvements — such as parking, signs, shoulder work, bicycle lanes and walking paths — all developed around a theme by local committees, which can apply for the funding.

The Town Council approved the grant application at its meeting on April 23. Councilors said they liked the idea of drawing more tourists to town and wanted to see Lake Road improved.

“The Lake Road is a very unsafe road, the shoulder particularly, so this kind of opens the door to an upgrade,” Councilor Jimmy Busque said.

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