CAPE ELIZABETH — The town last week was awarded a $729,000 federal grant for nearly 80 percent of the cost to construct a two-mile pedestrian path along Shore Road.
The funds were distributed through the Maine Department of Transportation’s fiscal 2012-2013 Work Plan that supports transportation improvements across the state.
The $1 million Shore Road Pathway plan was approved by the Town Council in 2009 on the condition that a local match of nearly 20 percent would be raised through private funds. So far, nearly $100,000, or slightly less than half of the required amount, has been pledged.
The town received the grant from the Quality Communities Program of the federal Transportation Enhancement Program, which supports community transportation activities such as bicycle and pedestrian facilities, historic and environmental projects and other community improvements.
Town Planner Maureen O’Meara said the $729,000 grant is slightly more than was expected, since the local match exceeds 20 percent of the project. She said there have been no changes to the original cost estimates since the project was approved in 2009, but as the project nears the construction stage, costs are expected to change.
“As we get closer to actually doing the project we refine and develop the details,” she said. “We won’t know exactly how much the project will cost since the numbers are in flux, but it is still in the same range.”
She said the council will have to vote to formally accept the grant and the local match has to be raised before any construction can start.
“We need to show the state that we have the matched funds and that information has to be available by October,” O’Meara said.
Jim Kerney, co-chairman of pathway proponents Safe Access For Everyone, said “we are absolutely thrilled with the response from the Federal government in support of the Shore Road pathway to promote safety and healthy lifestyles, and to link all the terrific recreational sites, our town center, schools and green-space together.”
“This funding, when combined with the private donations to SAFE,” Kerney said, “gets us substantially closer to final approvals and construction.”
He said the group has raised about $85,000 and hopes to soon reach $100,000.
Although the town was awarded the grant and private fundraising is going well, O’Meara said it is unknown when construction for the Shore Road pathway will start.
“It really is up to the council and the manager’s fine abilities to get financing together,” she said.