BANGOR — Pedestrians and cyclists may soon enjoy a safer path if a federal grant comes through for Bangor.
On Dec. 28, the Bangor City Council authorized an application for a federal Transportation, Community and System Preservation Program grant, which would complete a 3-mile trail that will ultimately link Essex Street to Cascade Park.
The trail would run through Saxl Park and Eastern Maine Community College, then across Stillwater Avenue to Essex Woods, and would be accessible to the Bangor Mall area, the “tree streets,” and Stillwater Gardens. About 2½ miles of that trail are now in place, with access points all along the way.
“This trail allows for connections between State Street and Stillwater Avenue that are safe for people walking and on bicycles,” explained Lucy Quimby, coordinator of the Bangor Trails project. “It makes a good alternate transportation route.”
The Bangor Trails group is a joint project between the Bangor Land Trust and the City of Bangor and is composed on three city staffers, three BLT members, and three at-large members.
“It’s been a team effort,” said Tracy Willette, Bangor’s recreation director and a Bangor Trails member. “The city has found a terrific partner in the land trust in what we’re trying to accomplish with the trail.”
The grant sought would cover the bulk of the $595,000 project cost for the half-mile section of the trail that would run from the end of the Sylvan Road to the Interstate 95/Stillwater Avenue overpass. The grant comes with a 20-percent local match requirement that can be met with cash, materials, and supplies or labor. The land trust already has $20,000 in grant money tabbed for the project.
This trail, all of which is on public land, has been in the planning stages since 2005. There was a two-year public survey that helped to rate potential trails in the greater Bangor area, Quimby explained, and “this one rose to the top of the list.
“This isn’t an impulse,” she said. “Many years of planning have gone into it.”
What will nearly $600,000 buy? Steven Ribble, a member of the committee and a landscape architect, explained that it would be a 10-foot-wide, paved, lighted, ADA accessible trail, with benches at either end, parking on Sylvan Road, trash receptacles, dog-litter stations, and signage.
Ribble estimated that the trail would take one construction season, or about four months, to build and an equal amount of time to handle the administrative work involved in the grant. The city should hear in May about whether it will receive the grant, so the best-case scenario for the trail to be fully open would be in 2013.
Quimby points to how recreational trails have been integrated into such Maine cities as Portland and Lewiston-Auburn and said that such trails would be beneficial to Bangor as well.
“The Bangor region has the potential for an equally attractive trail system if only we can keep the organization and focus to make it happen,” Quimby said. “Trails are an amenity that people look for in a state like Maine whose outdoor lifestyle is part of its brand. We need to develop our trails as part of our economic development strategy.”
For more information, visit www.bangorlandtrust.org.