After a decade of planning, raising funds and construction, the new pedestrian and bike trail through Bayside opened in a large ceremony Thursday.
The lighted trail runs from Elm Street to the Eastern Prom Trail, providing walkers and bikers access to the Back Cove trail, East End Beach or Portland’s waterfront.
At the ceremony Thursday, city officials said the trail was another step forward in revitalizing the local area, and while the 1.2 mile trail still needs another $1 million to be completed, it is expected to complete a needed connection with other trails on the peninsula.
An early important step in the development of the new trail occurred in 2005, when the city purchased a 13.2-acre former railroad property that runs through the Bayside neighborhood from the Eastern Trail to Deering Oaks Park in 2005.
“This acquisition was the first critical step toward fulfilling a vision of a new urban landscape in Bayside,” according to the organization Portland Trails. The group expects office, retail and residential development in the area to be linked by a network of open spaces and trails once the project is completed. The purchase was followed by the city relocating active scrap yards and its public-works facility.
When completed, the expected cost of the project will be $5 million, including $1.5 million contribution by the city to purchase the land for the trail and $3.5 million for design and development.
Rep. Chellie Pingree, who joined local dignitaries at Thursday’s ribbon cutting, has included $3 million in her appropriations requests to build a pedestrian bridge for the trail, which she says is needed to create a safe crossing of Franklin Arterial near where the Bayside Trail intersects the off ramp area of Interstate 295.
The public-private partnership that planned, designed and built the trail included the city of Portland, Trust for Public Land, Portland Trails, Bayside Neighborhood Association and East Bayside Neighborhood Association.