MILLINOCKET, Maine — Construction on a multiuse recreational bridge over the Penobscot River in Township 3 Indian Purchase should begin within two weeks, officials said Wednesday.
MJM Construction of Millinocket won the $155,134 contract and specification package as prepared by Bridgham Engineering to build the bridge. The Town Council voted 6-0-1 to award the contract last week. Councilor David Cyr abstained.
“This is good news but it’s even better that it’s a local contractor,” Councilor Jimmy Busque said, noting that many town and Katahdin region residents will likely be employed by MJM or subcontractors.
The bridge will be used by hikers, snowmobilers, bicyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts, but it is crucial to efforts to build an ATV trail network in the Katahdin region, proponents said.
Officials, business owners and recreation enthusiasts from East Millinocket, Medway and Millinocket have long believed that all-terrain-vehicle 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.
Town Councilor John Raymond, former Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce President Brian Wiley, and resident Paul Sannicandro have been working for three years as volunteers to create a 35-mile multiuse trail for ATV riders, bicyclists, bird-watchers, campers, hikers, snowmobilers, and others.
They and a regional trails committee have elicited a nonbinding, written agreement from Katahdin Forest Management — one of the region’s largest landowners — allowing the first 13-mile leg of a proposed 23½-mile leg of what would be the region’s first ATV and multiuse trail to become operational by 2011, if all conditions are met.
The bridge is a key element to that trail. 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.