PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Many people associate the municipal bike path with fitness enthusiasts and youths who turn to it for exercise and adventure. While this represents a large portion of the population attracted to the paved trail, many others rely on it to get to schools, stores and other businesses because they do not have access to a motor vehicle. That is one of the reasons city officials have longed to extend the path, and on Monday evening, they accepted grant funding to do it.
During the July 1 meeting, city councilors voted to authorize a Maine Department of Transportation Quality Community Program grant that the city applied for more than a year ago, Deputy City Manager Martin Puckett said Wednesday afternoon. The project, which will add more than a quarter mile to the six miles of existing path, will cost $162,210. That amount will be covered by the $129,768 grant from MDOT and $32,442 in local matching funds.
“We were one out of 120 communities that applied for it, so we knew it was very competitive,” Puckett said of the grant. “This is going to create an eight-foot-wide path parallel to the west side of Loop Road, with a buffer between the road and the path. It will be about 1,800 feet long and connect the downtown with Northern Maine Community College, Peace Park, Presque Isle Middle School and the MicMac Housing Development. There is a hefty amount of the population out there and they are disconnected from the downtown.”
Once the connection is completed, people will be able to use the bike path to walk, run or bicycle from that area to the downtown completely off the roadway and away from traffic. Puckett added that lengthening the route also will increase the number of pedestrians in the downtown area and promote a healthy lifestyle.
He said construction will start when state funding is available, with an August 2014 projected completion date.