U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud will be the special guest at a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday for a multiuse recreational bridge over the Penobscot River that officials say is crucial to efforts to build an ATV trail network in the Katahdin region.
The 2nd District Democrat will be among those heralding the creation of the bridge and the “four season” recreational economy that will grow from it, Millinocket Town Manager Eugene Conlogue said.
“He has been very supportive of this area and its recreation industry and he will be the guest of honor,” Conlogue said Tuesday.
Officials, business owners and recreation enthusiasts from East Millinocket, Medway and Millinocket have long believed that ATV use in the Katahdin region would inject millions into the regional economy during spring, summer and fall, much the way snowmobiling does during winter.
Landowners have resisted allowing ATV trails through the region, saying the trails would damage sensitive lands needed for the state’s forest products industries while increasing insurance liability, vandalism and illegal dumping.
But a regional trails committee, which has been addressing the issue for about three years, has elicited a nonbinding, written agreement from Katahdin Forest Management — one of the region’s largest landowners — allowing the first 13-mile leg of the trail to become operational by 2011, if all conditions are met.
Construction of that leg could begin this year and probably would be available to snowmobilers starting in December. The trail system eventually would span about 35 miles and connect the Katahdin region to trail networks by Seboeis Lake and then on to southern Maine.
The groundbreaking will occur at 4 p.m. Saturday beside Green Bridge on Route 11, just outside Millinocket. The public is invited. An informal reception will be held afterward at North Plaza Event Center at 780 Central St. in Millinocket.
MJM Construction of Millinocket is likely to be the firm that will build the bridge starting next month. A trails committee subcommittee of Conlogue, Millinocket Town Councilor John Raymond and Brian Wiley of East Millinocket met Monday with MJM and will recommend the firm to the Town Council for approval at the council’s meeting on June 25, Conlogue said.
Raymond, who owns the event center, and Wiley could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
With a total bid of $155,134, MJM was the project’s lowest bidder of the seven companies that bid. It was also the only company to bid on the project’s three phases of work, Conlogue said.
“It turned out that his three phases were all the lowest in their respective categories,” Conlogue said. “Right now the [total construction cost] estimate looks like about $185,000, which is less than what we had thought originally.”
The original cost estimate for the bridge’s construction was about $200,000, Conlogue said.
The funding raised through three Maine Department of Conservation grants and a $60,000 allocation from the Katahdin Area Recovery and Expansion Committee still leaves the project about $6,000 short of fully funded, Conlogue said.
Fundraisers will raise the $6,000, Conlogue said.