TOWNSHIP 3 INDIAN PURCHASE, Maine — Construction of the area’s first multiuse recreational bridge over the Penobscot River is off to a good start, Millinocket Town Manager Eugene Conlogue said Wednesday.
Since construction began in late July, the cement anchors for the bridge’s pilings have been set, brush clearing has been done and riprap has been set in the water, Conlogue said.
“It seems to be going great,” Conlogue said Wednesday. “They’re taking a break right now and doing other jobs because the cement is [curing]. Everything I hear from our on-site inspector is that work is progressing very well.”
In late June, MJM Construction of Millinocket won the $155,134 contract and specification package as prepared by Bridgham Engineering to build the bridge.
The Town Council vote was 6-0-1. A cement contractor, Councilor David Cyr abstained on the vote, as he had bid on part of the job.
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 of dollars 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. 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.
Work on the bridge will likely resume within a few weeks, Conlogue said.