Next phase of Topsham bike path could be built in 2012

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TOPSHAM — The next phase of a bicycle and pedestrian path could be built in 2012, the project manager said Wednesday at a meeting on the project.

One portion of the phase will run from the area of Town Hall on Main Street, around the Wright-Pierce office and east through a forest to Community Drive, parallel to the Coastal Connector. The other piece will pick up across the Coastal Connector at Village Drive and run to the Topsham Crossing neighborhood.

The two pieces together measure about one mile. A previous segment of the four-phase project runs along Monument Place from the Topsham Fair Mall to Town Hall.

The project has been designed by T.Y. Lin International engineers in Falmouth and Terry Dewan Associates landscape architects in Yarmouth.

Eighty percent of funding for the design has come from federal monies administered by the Maine Department of Transportation, while the rest has been matched locally by private sources. A similar arrangement is expected in funding construction of this phase of the path.

The design has cost $95,000, while construction is estimated to cost as much as $800,000.

“When we get into the next design steps, we’ll have enough information to pin that (number) down further,” said Darin Bryant, vice president of T.Y. Lin and manager of the path project.

A bridge that would straddle Topsham Crossing and connect the two pieces of the new phase is planned, but has been shelved for a later time due to funding issues. The cost would be about $700,000, Bryant said.

There has been discussion about a temporary crosswalk being placed at that location, Bryant said. Still, he noted, there have been concerns about the degree of safety in crossing that busy stretch of road.

“That is a very dangerous place to be trying to cross,” resident Liz Armstrong said.

She noted, though, that since some people will try to cross there to go from one piece of the path to the other, “we have to really do something.”

The path will generally be 10 feet wide and paved with 2-foot grass shoulders on both sides, Bryant said.

He noted that a preliminary design report and concept plan will be developed and submitted to the town and DOT, after which another public meeting will be held. Once the town has the money in hand and obtained the necessary easements it will be able to advertise the project for construction.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or [email protected].

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.