Bangor committee endorses lighted waterfront walkway plan, bid

Posted Aug. 20, 2012, at 10:04 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor City Council’s finance committee unanimously approved — and recommended full council approval of — a bid by Maine Earth of Hampden to build a quarter-mile paved and lighted pathway along the waterfront.

“This provides a very nice walking trail from the arena to the waterfront when it’s finished,” said Bangor City Engineer Art Morgan.

The project, which Morgan says could begin as early as November, will cost an estimated $390,307 and involve the paving of a quarter-mile-long, 10-foot-wide hiking, running, biking and rollerblading path. The path runs from the Hollywood Casino Hotel and Raceway and eventually splits and arcs off to encircle an elliptical, eye-shaped area before reconnecting and continuing on to the parking lot near the intersection of Railroad and Front streets, and near the Sea Dog Brewing Co.

Four companies submitted bids for the project. Maine Earth’s was the lowest of the bids, which ranged up to $538,727.

The full council can vote to approve the bid as early as Monday, Aug. 27. If work begins before winter, Morgan said it could be finished as early as next spring.

The pathway system will also involve the installation of 29 additional 16-feet-high, aluminum lights spaced 110 feet apart.

“One thing it does is give you a nice walk from Cross Insurance Center, Hollywood Casino and down the waterfront to places like the Sea Dog, the downtown area, and the parking garage, West Market Square, and all that area,” Morgan said.

This is the latest development in a decades-long plan to develop Bangor’s waterfront.

“We started batting this idea around in the late ’80s,” Morgan said. “The [oil] tank farms had been removed, but you couldn’t walk down along the river for fear of falling into a hole you couldn’t get out of.”

Morgan said it wasn’t that long ago that the area much of the path will occupy was undeveloped and unknown to the general public, with only the occasional person or small group venturing there to eat their lunches.

The National Folk Festival, and later the American Folk Festival, changed that.

“Now that it’s been improved and developed, people are wowed by it. It’s a growing, vibrant place,” Morgan said. “It’s an evolutionary process that’s changed a couple times since 2001 from what we initially wanted and thought our priorities were.”

Morgan said there are other wrinkles to follow — pending budgetary and council approval — such as an amphitheater.

“It’s a later phase, but when it’s developed, it will have a capacity of 3,500, so it’ll be smaller than the Waterfront Concerts pavilion,” he said. “It will basically be a naturally sloped amphitheater.”

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