MILLINOCKET, Maine — Though the Katahdin region lacks sanctioned ATV trails as yet, trail proponents look forward to starting construction on a multiuse recreational bridge this summer that they hope eventually will be used by ATVs.
The town will begin to accept bids to build the bridge west of town near Green Bridge over the Penobscot River’s West Branch. The Town Council informally agreed Thursday with the bid package process developed by Town Manager Eugene Conlogue, with assistance from ATV proponent Brian Wiley. “This is something we have been moving right along with from the start. It’s one more step in a good direction,” council Chairman Wallace Paul said Friday. “It’s going to be a good thing.”
Wiley told the council that almost enough money has been raised to build the bridge, which is a key element to a proposed 35-mile multiuse trail that he, Town Councilor John Raymond and resident Paul Sannicandro have been working on for three years.
Estimates have put the cost of the bridge at over $200,000. Much of the money has been raised, but officials won’t divulge exactly how much.
“With the in-kind efforts that we can put into this,” Wiley said, “I am very confident that we have the money to do this.”
Local businesspeople and sportsmen have long complained that the area’s lack of an ATV trail system — which draws millions of dollars and thousands of tourists to other state areas annually — has deprived the Katahdin region of economic benefits similar to what it reaps from snowmobiling. The Katahdin region is among the nation’s finest areas for snowmobilers.
To answer this, Wiley, Raymond and Sannicandro have sought to create a multiuse trail for all-terrain vehicles, bicyclists, bird-watchers, campers, hikers, snowmobilers and other recreationalists that would start on land owned by Katahdin Forest Management at the Northern Timber Cruisers clubhouse in Millinocket.
The trail would follow a power line passage to Route 11, then to the proposed bridge. Avoiding nearby ski trails, the ATV course would continue south to the 5 Lakes Lodge area to Schoodic Lake and the Milo-Brownville area, effectively connecting Millinocket to a burgeoning multiuse and ATV trail network in southern Maine.
Councilors agreed to have the town help build the bridge, which already has its building permits.
The three men must answer the concerns of area landowners before the trail can be built, Wiley said. He has expressed confidence that the landowners are flexible enough, and the ATV proponents diligent enough, to make that happen eventually. No trail construction timeline has been set.
If all goes well, bridge construction will begin in June and be finished by fall, Wiley said.