ELLSWORTH, Maine — After part of it was opened for public use last winter, the Sunrise Trail has been closed to the public while work crews remove the remaining old rail and rehabilitate the old rail bed, according to a state official.
But people involved in creating the multiuse trail on the old Calais Branch rail bed hope to open at least one section of it possibly as early as June, Charles Corliss said Thursday.
Corliss, recreational trail coordinator for the state Bureau of Parks and Lands, said Thursday that 49 miles of trail in Washington County from Whitneyville to Pembroke were opened last winter to snowmobilers and cross-country skiers, but as of April 1 the entire trail has been closed again to the public, including all-terrain ve-hicles.
He said crews are expected in the next few weeks to begin removing rail in the town of Hancock, at the trail’s western end in Hancock County, and work their way east to Harrington. Rail already has been removed east of Harrington and some new bridges have been built where old rail trestles had fallen into disrepair, he said, but much of the trail rehabilitation work still needs to be completed.
Corliss said that, because of the nature of the work and the logistics of moving equipment, it makes more sense to shut the entire trail down instead of trying to manage a moving patchwork of trail closures and openings at the same time the work is being done.
“It will be June before we get anything open at all,” Corliss said. “It’s ongoing construction, and we don’t know where we will be from one day to the next.”
He said the goal is to open the first section, most likely several miles in the Machias area, by sometime next month. He said other sections would be opened for public use as work progresses during the summer.
Corliss said Orrington developer Dale Henderson, who owns properties that straddle the rail bed in Hancock and in Steuben, still is contesting the ownership of the rail bed in court. Corliss said that, as far as he knows, work crews still would be able to work on the rail bed that cuts through Henderson’s properties while the issue is being debated in court.