MILLINOCKET, Maine — ATV enthusiasts attending a groundbreaking at the site of a planned all-purpose recreational bridge across the Penobscot River on Saturday have something else to celebrate — the acquisition of a $13,824 state grant to assist in the construction of an accompanying 13-mile trail.
State officials charged with creating and coordinating state all-terrain vehicle networks told town Recreation Department Director Frank Clukey earlier this week that they approved a grant request funding 70 percent of the $19,750 construction of the multipurpose trail, Town Manager Eugene Conlogue said Thursday.
East Millinocket resident Brian Wiley, a leader in the trail and bridge effort and former president of the Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce, found perfect timing in the award.
“We can move ahead now,” Wiley said Thursday. “We will have to raise the required 30 percent match, but I don’t see that as a problem. We have plans to do that. The [Northern Timber Cruisers Snowmobile] Club will have dinners and there are other things we are looking at.”
The bridge 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. Construction is scheduled for next month.
For proponents, the bridge and trail hold the promise of helping the Katahdin region’s economy earn millions annually from all-terrain vehicle enthusiasts when the project goes on line in 2011.
The area is one of the few in the state that lacks an organized ATV network, which, proponents say, will resemble the Katahdin region’s vast, lucrative and internationally renowned snowmobile trail system, except that it will be available in more than just snowy winters.
As Phase I, the 13-mile trail will connect the snowmobile and ATV clubhouse to the bridge and South Twin Lake, Conlogue said. Eventually, as part of Phase II, the trail will run to the Seboeis Lake region, where it will connect to trail networks that run throughout southern Maine.
Conlogue thanked Clukey, the regional trails committee, Katahdin Forest Management President Marcia McKeague and local and state officials for combining efforts. The region’s largest landowner, KFM owns the land on which the trail will be built, if all conditions within the nonbinding agreement are met.
Construction of the trail, which also will be available for hikers, bicyclists, snowmobilers and other outdoorsmen, should begin this fall — in time for next snowmobile season, Conlogue said.