CAPE ELIZABETH — A cost of $864,000 was announced for the proposed Shore Road pathway project Wednesday, surprising pathway committee members who said they expected the price to be at least double that amount.
The pedestrian walkway, the product of more than a year of work by the Shore Road Pathway Study Committee, would run from the old entrance of Fort Williams to the Town Center, crossing Shore Road twice and staying mostly on the west side of the street. The pathway is proposed to be contained almost entirely by the town-owned right of way. It would enter private property only two or three times, and at the permission of the landowners.
One of those landowners could be the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust, which has yet to formally grant the project access to Robinson’s Woods. In a letter to the committee, land trust officials said they would not take a stand on the politically charged issue, but did ask for more information on how the pathway fits the mission of the trust to preserve open space and provide low-impact accessibility to the public.
Pathway committee members have said they expect to be able to provide sufficient information to satisfy the land trust.
The committee was charged by the Town Council to balance safety concerns with the character of the road, preserving as many trees and natural features as possible. The proposed path would be 5 feet wide at all points, and at least 3 feet from the road. At two points where that 3-foot esplanade is not possible due to right of way constraints, the pathway would be elevated from the road with a curb in between.
The estimated price tag of $864,000, announced by town engineers, was much lower than committee members expected.
Most echoed member Suzanne McGinn, who said she was “pleasantly surprised the estimate was as low as it was. I was excited.”
Several members said they had expected the cost to be at least $1.6 million, especially after rumors of a multi-million-dollar cost circulated the town.
“There were some horrific figures floating around,” committee Chairman Paul Thelin said.
Included in the $864,000 are:
• Construction costs of just under $597,000.
• Survey and design costs of $72,000.
• Expected permit fees totalling $27,000.
• Construction administration costs of $24,000.
• Full-time construction monitoring costs of $36,000.
• A contingency fund of $108,000.
Engineers noted that permit fees may actually be waived because of the proposed path’s proximity to Shore Road. Committee members also pointed out that many grant funding opportunities exist, and said they hope the town and Town Council will recognize those opportunities, rather than balk at the cost during a time of economic hardship.
Engineers estimated that costs would inflate about 7 percent annually, but added that in the current market, with construction work in a lull, the town could see very favorable bids if the pathway is built soon. Construction is expected to take about three months.
Councilor David Backer, who sits on the committee, has previously said the pathway is unlikely to be built soon, unless outside funding suddenly becomes available. Backer was absent from Wednesday’s meeting.
The council is expected to accept receipt of the pathway plan by April. Pathway construction will require a public hearing process and Town Council approval.